Scotland’s deposit return scheme to launch in August 2023

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The UK’s first deposit return scheme will go live across Scotland on 16 August 2023, the Scottish Government has announced.

This follows an independent review, which considered the impact of COVID-19 on the scheme.

Addressing parliament, the Circular Economy Minister set out plans for a phased implementation of the scheme, and said the target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024 will be maintained.

As part of the phased implementation, the Scottish Government is working with retailers on a voluntary basis to enable people to start returning their bottles and cans for recycling from November 2022.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater commented: “This will be the first scheme of its kind in the UK and one of the most environmentally ambitious and accessible in Europe.

“Implementing a scheme on this scale is a massive national undertaking involving tens of thousands of producers and retailers.

“Given the challenges that the pandemic and Brexit have placed upon these businesses, it is disappointing – but understandable – that the independent review concluded the original start date was no longer feasible.

“Despite calls to water down the scheme by removing materials or waiting for other nations to catch up, we have maintained our ambition and ensured that the scheme will still meet its original target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024.

“We have also published a clear plan for delivery, with critical milestones on the path to full implementation. These include use of return points on a voluntary basis by retailers from November 2022.”

As part of this scheme, people will pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink that comes in a single-use container made of PET plastic, steel and aluminium, or glass and get their money back when they return the empty container to one of the return points.

Regulations asking Parliament to approve the change in go-live date will be laid on Wednesday 15th December.

Key milestones for delivery of the scheme include:

  • by March 2022, Circularity Scotland will have signed contracts with partners to deliver its logistics, operations and IT systems
  • by August 2022, the public awareness campaign will be launched and counting and sorting centres will start to be built
  • retailers will start rolling out the return infrastructure in earnest from next summer and we are working with them to start using that infrastructure on a voluntary basis from November 2022.
  • Orkney will see a community-run return scheme operating in November 2022.
  • in January 2023, Circularity Scotland and SEPA will begin the process to register producers
  • in July 2023, there will be end-to-end testing of containers through the system.