Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020

The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020

The aim of the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 is to promote and secure an increase in the recycling of certain materials.

By applying a deposit of 20p to drinks in the most common single-use packaging, the scheme will encourage people to return that packaging to specified return points, where they will be able to reclaim the deposit. This will mean more of these containers will be collected for recycling.

Who will the Regulations Affect?

The Regulations will affect producers, retailers and consumers of single-use drinks in containers made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET plastic), steel, aluminium or glass.

What are the main provisions of the new Regulations?

The main provisions of the new Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 are:

  • To ban the marketing or sale to consumers of single-use drinks in containers made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET plastic), steel, aluminium or glass, which are ultimately intended for retail sale in Scotland, if the producer is not registered with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
  • Require that a 20p deposit is applied each time a drink in a relevant single-use container is sold in Scotland.
  • Require producers to collect a target percentage of the scheme packaging. Producers will reimburse deposits for any scheme packaging returned or collected.
  • Provide for targets, which will increase over the first three years of the scheme’s operation (70% in year 1, 80% in year 2 and 90% in year 3).
  • Provide for producers to act through a scheme administrator that will meet the obligations on their behalf.
  • Require retailers to operate a return point at premises from which sales of scheme products are made.
  • Scottish Ministers may exempt a retailer from acting as a return point and may approve any other person who wishes to act as a return point.
  • Retailers selling products by means of distance sales (e.g. through an online grocery sale and delivery service) to provide takeback services from the site of delivery to consumers who have purchased those items.

Who will enforce the Regulations?

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will enforce the Regulations.

Key Dates

13 May 2020: Regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament 

1 January 2022: producers can register with SEPA and start to place deposit-bearing containers on the market 

1 July 2022: the scheme goes live for consumers. All drinks containers purchased by retailers for sale to a consumer in Scotland must bear a deposit and retailers who sell drinks must start acting as return points. 

Further Information

The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020

Scottish Government – Deposit Return Scheme

Zero Waste Scotland – Deposit Return Scheme

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