Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Retailers - what you must do

Retailers - what you must do

Who is a retailer?

A retailer is:

  • someone who sells the types of drinks in containers covered by the regulations to someone in Scotland:
  • if sold online, then the operator
  • if sold through a vending machine, the owner (name marked on the machine) or the manager of the premises where the machine is used.

This includes retailers who are based outside of Scotland so long as the product is sold to someone in Scotland.

What a retailer must do

For all drinks in the type of container covered by the regulation, sold after 1 July 2022, you must:

Have clear signage

  • If a retail outlet, then you must have clear signage stating that the deposit of 20p will be applied.
  • If you are an online retailer then your website must state that the 20p deposit applies.
  • If you sell through a vending machine, then the information about the deposit must be visible on the vending machine.

Stock that you had purchased before 1 July 2022 is exempt from the deposit, you must have signage that tells the consumer that no deposit will be charged, and no deposit returned for that particular container.

Stock purchased after 1 July 2022 will be covered by the scheme. You will pay an extra 20p deposit on each container when they are delivered.  When these containers have been returned to you and are collected for recycling, you will get the 20p back from the producer or wholesaler.  

Operate a voluntary return point

The operator of a return point can be the retailer, or someone operating a voluntary return point, which has been set up to collect drinks containers sold by any retailers.

You can apply to operate a voluntary return point (not based in a retail outlet that sells drinks in containers covered by the scheme) if you have plans that show you will be able to run the point for at least one year. You can find out more information about voluntary return points, and get an application form from:

Zero Waste Scotland: Voluntary Return Point  https://depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk/voluntary-return-point-application

Circularity Scotland: Return Point Operators https://circularityscotland.com/return-point-operators/

The operator of a return point must (unless exempt):

  • Accept the containers being returned
  • Pay the customer the deposit amount (20p)
  • Store all the containers that are returned for collection by or on behalf of the producer, or the scheme administrator.
  • Provide information for customers with details of a complaints procedure for any consumer complaints, and also list SEPA contact details.

The return point operator must refuse to accept drinks containers:

  • that are not identified as belonging to the deposit return scheme
  • that are soiled
  • that are broken (or not intact)
  • that still contain liquid
  • if a collection by the producer or scheme administrator has been requested, but has not been carried out according to their operations plan (storage issue)
  • if a customer tries to return a number of containers that is far greater than the retailer sells as part of a single transaction.

For distance sales, where the retailer sends the goods to a customer who has, for example, purchased the goods online, the retailer must either

  • arrange for the collection of the containers from the customer from the site they were delivered to
  • allow the customer to return them to the retailer or the producer free of charge.
  • In either case make sure that the deposit is paid for each drinks container returned.

Charge a handling fee

If you are a retailer that operates a take back service, you can expect a handling fee to be pain to you by the producer or the scheme administrator. This will cover the costs associated with the take back service such as:

  • Collection and storage
  • Staff time
  • Floor space rental
  • Vehicles used for collection or delivery of containers, if applicable.

Exemptions for return points

You can apply for an exemption from running a return point if you can show that:

  • There is an alternative return point close enough, which the customers have access to, and the operator has agreed to accept containers on your behalf
  • This won’t prevent the producer or the scheme administrator meeting their collection targets
  • Your premises are not suitable for operating a return point. This could be because of lack of space that could cause problems relating to:
    • Health and safety
    • Food safety
    • Fire safety
    • Environmental protection
    • Public health

You can apply for exemption at:


For more information about exemptions see:

Zero Waste Scotland: Exemptions FAQs

If you are granted an exemption, you must make it clear to customers, with signage,

  • that you are not a return point
  • where to take containers for the deposit refund.

Further information

Zero Waste Scotland Information for Retailers 

Circularity Scotland: Retailers 

SEPA: Retailers 

In this guideline:

What is the Deposit return scheme?

Customers - How will the DRS affect you?

Drinks producers - what must you do?

Retailers - What must you do?

Hospitality sector - What must you do?

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NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms