Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

What is the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

What is the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

(Applies to Scotland – plans for a deposit return scheme for Northern Ireland are subject to a consultation which closed in June 2021. A likely date for introduction is late in 2024)

What items are included in the Deposit Return Scheme?

The DRS applies to drinks containers, either single or in multipacks, that are wholly or mainly made of:

  • PET (type 1 plastic)
  • Glass
  • Aluminium
  • Steel

It applies to drinks containers that:

  • contain from 50ml to 3 litres
  • are sealed and watertight/airtight at point of sale
  • are not for refills, i.e., are single use packaging,
  • are for sale in Scotland after 1 July 2022

What is the Deposit?

The deposit is 20p which is added to the price of the drink when it is sold. The seller (usually shopkeeper/supermarket etc) must add the 20p to the price of every drink sold in the types of containers that are included in the scheme.

The seller must display information that says that the deposit is payable, and the amount to be added. They must also display information on any products where the deposit is not payable, and that no deposit will be returned.

The deposit is not payable by customers in export shops, or for drinks that will be consumed on the premises, e.g., in restaurants or bars.

How do shoppers get their deposit back?

The seller must either

  • accept returned empty containers and return the 20p deposit on each one
  • have clear information about where the deposit can be returned. This must be close to the point of sale, (usually a neighbouring business with more space)

When empty drinks containers are returned, the deposit of 20p paid on each one will be returned to the customer.

Who else is involved in the deposit return Scheme?

  • Drinks producers: the brand owner, the importer or online retailer
  • Retailers: shops, supermarkets, online retailers, vending machine owners, or the manager of the premises where the vending machine is kept.
  • Hospitality sector: bars, clubs and restaurants.
  • Scheme Administrator: manages the scheme on behalf of the producers and retailers. The scheme administrator is Circularity Scotland (an industry-led, privately owned and not-for-profit private-sector enterprise).

Further Information

You can find more information about the deposit return scheme (DRS) from:

SEPA: Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme 

Zero Waste Scotland: Deposit Return Scheme: The essentials 

Circularity Scotland: Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

Zero Waste Scotland FAQs 


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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