In May 2019, the Scottish Government revealed its design for a deposit return scheme, including the proposed 20p deposit and target materials.
Scotland’s deposit return scheme for drink containers is a key milestone in the Scottish Government’s strategy to address climate change, improve recycling rates and reduce litter.
A deposit return scheme involves consumers paying a small amount of money – the 'deposit' – for the container when they purchase a drink to take away. This is refunded in full when they return the empty container.
The concept of a deposit return system for drink containers is nothing new. Many people will remember cashing in their 'glass cheques' in the past but, rather than being limited to individual brands choosing to operate their own bottle return scheme, modern-day nationwide deposit return schemes require everyone producing and selling drinks in single-use containers to take part.
Schemes like this are already operating successfully in many countries across Europe and in several US and Australian states. Scotland is proud to be the first UK nation to embrace the idea. The scheme is designed to deliver two major benefits. It will ensure that materials are recycled to the very highest standards, helping to build a circular economy and it will also reduce the incidence of litter. As well as making Scotland a cleaner, greener place to live and visit, this will protect our ecosystems and save millions of pounds in clean-up and other associated costs.
Partners of the scheme
On 13 May 2020, the Scottish Parliament voted to approve these regulations, establishing Scotland’s national deposit return scheme.
On 24 March 2021, the Scottish Government confirmed that it had approved Circularity Scotland’s application to become the scheme administrator.
In December 2022, producers were able to sign up with Circularity Scotland to start getting ready for the formal registration process.
In March 2023, registration to become a return point operator opened for retailers.
On 1 March 2024, Scotland’s deposit return scheme will go live and consumers will start paying a 20p deposit at the point of purchase for drink containers.
Please note that future dates are subject to change. We will regularly review and update this page to keep the information up to date.