DRS: Progress and setbacks

The Scheme Administrator, Circularity Scotland, for Scotland’s impending Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) announced a “significant package” of measures to support drinks producers prepare for the DRS. The support measures aim to mitigate the administrative burden and reduce the cost to producers.

The news of the £22 million support package was soon followed by industry news outlets suggesting Scotland’s DRS implementation deadline of August 2023 could be blocked by the UK government.

Support measures included:


Despite these measures, the UK government could block the introduction of Scotland’s DRS due to its potential impact on inflation, reports suggest.

It is rumoured by industry news that Ministers in England could look to veto the scheme which would require a deposit of 20p on all single-use PET bottles, glass bottles, aluminium and steel cans.

These reports come after all candidates in the running to become Scotland’s first minister said they would either delay the scheme or scrap it completely, just one day before the producer registration deadline.

Crisis talks were held last week between the Scottish government, Circularity Scotland and industry leaders in a bid to save the scheme. Circularity Scotland have announced a series of amendments over the past year, softening the policy proposal to ease the impact on industry.

David Harris, Chief Executive of Circularity Scotland said “Circularity Scotland was established by the industry to meet their obligations under the deposit return scheme as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. This announcement is further evidence of how we are continuing to innovate and identify additional ways to mitigate the pressure on businesses. We know that smaller producers in particular have been concerned about the cashflow impacts of the scheme, and these measures will address those concerns.”

Updated 05/03/23

Following industry news reports of the possibility that the UK government would block Scotland’s DRS introduction date this summer, Circularity Scotland released communications reassuring recipients that the scheme remains on course for its August launch.

Circularity Scotland confirmed in the communications that more than 2bn recyclable drinks containers had been registered for the scheme, representing more than 95% of the total volume of products sold in Scotland each year, with “hundreds” of small, medium and large businesses registered under the scheme.

The communications also detailed that registration will now remain open to enable all producers to register ahead of the launch on the 16th August 2023, previously there was a registration deadline set for 28th February 2023.

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