Circularity Scotland Limited has been announced as the new administrator to oversee operation of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The Scottish Government confirmed today that it had approved the scheme administrator application of Circularity Scotland, a not-for-profit body which represents a combination of drinks producers, trade associations and retailers. 

The DRS will require consumers to pay a 20p deposit when they buy a glass bottle, can or PET plastic container. The money is then reimbursed when the empty containers are returned, contributing to a circular economy. 

Circularity Scotland will work with companies throughout the supply chain – from producers through to hospitality, wholesalers and retailers - to deliver a system that is expected to collect at least 90% of drinks containers across Scotland.

Zero Waste Scotland research predicts that 34,000 fewer plastic bottles, cans and glasses will be littered every day with the introduction of a DRS in Scotland. With thousands of return points set-up nationwide, £62 million a year could be saved tackling the indirect impacts of litter. 

Donald McCalman, interim director of Circularity Scotland, said:

“The Deposit Return Scheme is a gamechanger for Scotland’s ambition to become a greener and cleaner country. It supports a circular economy and the Scottish Government’s ambitious plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

“The appointment of Circularity Scotland as a Deposit Return Scheme administrator is a milestone moment – it allows us to begin delivering a world-class DRS that works for everyone. We will work closely with companies and trade associations throughout the supply chain to develop and operate a DRS system that works for all.”

Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“I am pleased to announce that Circularity Scotland Limited has been approved to operate as a scheme administrator of Scotland’s ambitious deposit return scheme.

“This is a significant milestone in a scheme which will improve the quality and quantity of our recycling, contribute towards our net zero targets and significantly reduce litter.

“I am grateful for the industry’s collective commitment to move ahead with the scheme, despite the pressures of COVID-19 over the past year and we look forward to working with them to make the deposit return scheme a success.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:  

“This is a huge milestone and a mark of the tremendous amount of work that has been done to prepare a practical and sustainable Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland. We’re extremely pleased that Circularity Scotland will be taking the scheme forward.   

“Scotland’s DRS will be an important part of our journey towards a more circular economy, challenging throwaway culture and contributing to the fight against climate change: reducing emissions by nearly 160,000 tonnes of CO2eq each year – the equivalent of taking 83,000 cars off the road.”

In 2017, the Scottish Government first announced its ambition to introduce a DRS in Scotland to increase recycling rates and reduce litter. DRS regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2020 paved the way for drinks producers and importers to nominate a scheme administrator to fulfil the DRS obligations on their behalf. 

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government commissioned an independent gateway review to assess the impact of the pandemic on the go-live date for the scheme, which is currently scheduled for July 2022.

It is estimated that 4million tonnes of CO2eq emissions will be cut over 25 years as a direct result of a well-designed DRS.

To receive information on the implementation of the DRS, Circularity Scotland is encouraging producers, retailers and members of the hospitality industry to subscribe for updates

Further comments from initial members of Circularity Scotland are as follows:

Drink producers

Roger White, AG Barr Chief Executive, said

"This is an important and welcome milestone supporting the creation of a DRS scheme in Scotland that can deliver the improvements to recycling and littering that we all seek."

Caroline Thompson-Hill, Accolade Wines Managing Director (Europe), said

“Sustainability is a core focus for Accolade Wines, our customers and consumers. We are proud to take a leading role within the industry by helping to develop Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. Over the coming months, beverage producers, retailers and other industry stakeholders will support the new scheme administrator of the DRS to ensure the scheme is developed in a way that works for consumers, industry and the environment. It’s important that everyone plays their part, and we encourage all drinkers to recycle their cans and bottles wherever possible, including via the new Deposit Return Scheme when it officially launches in Scotland. We congratulate the Scottish Government on the creation of the not-for-profit scheme administrator which will ensure the scheme’s success from the outset, supporting a sustainable industry.”

Tom Fiennes, Commercial Sustainability Director for Great Britain at Britvic, said

“Britvic is delighted to hear that Circularity Scotland has been appointed administrator of the country’s deposit return scheme. As a founding member, we know that what we learn will help us push for better environmental outcomes across Great Britain and bring us one step closer to a world where great packaging never becomes waste.”

Timiko Cranwell, Legal & Corporate Affairs Director, Budweiser Brewing Group UK & I, said: 

"We are proud to be a part of the new administrator and playing a critical role in delivering a world-class DRS, which will deliver a step change in recycling and will move the UK further toward a truly circular economy.”

Stephen Moorhouse, Vice President & General Manager, Coca-Cola European Partners, said: 

“As a Founding Member of Circularity Scotland, we are delighted that the company has been approved by Government as an administrator for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme. We believe it is critical to have an independent, not-for-profit organisation, backed by industry, at the heart of any well-designed scheme. We have long advocated the positive role that DRS can play in boosting recycling and tackling litter. Today’s announcement is an important step towards making that a reality.”

James Crampton, Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken UK, said: 

“As one of the leading consumer goods companies operating at scale in Scotland, we’re acutely aware of the huge opportunity and responsibility we have to help shape the way we all recycle. As founding members of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme administrator, we can work alongside other producers, retailers and the Scottish Government to help positively shift all our behaviours for the benefit of the planet.”

Les Montgomery, Chief Executive, Highland Spring Group, said: 

“As a founder member of Circularity Scotland, we are delighted that the organisation has been appointed as the scheme administrator for a Scottish Deposit Return Scheme. We are committed to ensuring the scheme operates as efficiently and effectively as possible, delivers key environmental benefits, and makes a positive contribution to the circular economy in Scotland. We will be working collaboratively with other members to deliver the best possible system for Scotland and look forward to the outcome of the independent gateway review on the go-live date for the scheme.”

Grant McKenzie, MD for Nestlé Waters UK, said: 

“We want to see a world where packaging does not end up as litter or waste, one where used packaging is considered a useful resource. Nestlé Waters have long advocated for a well-designed deposit return scheme to help make this a reality in the UK and the appointment of Circularity Scotland as the Deposit Return Scheme administrator is a watershed moment. We look forward to working with CSL and all its members to begin delivering an effective and efficient Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.”

Michelle Norman, Sustainability Director, Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I, said: 

“Our appointment is another positive step forward on the road to a brighter, environmental future for Scotland. A truly effective Deposit Return Scheme won’t be easy to achieve, but it’s the best way to reduce litter, reduce our carbon footprint and drive the circular economy we all want to see.”

Andrea Pozzi, Chief Operating Officer, C&C Group plc (owners of Tennent’s), said: 

“We welcome the confirmation of the appointment of Circularity Scotland as the System Administrator to deliver Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme, this is a key milestone in the introduction of the scheme. There is still a significant amount of work to be done to deliver a world-class DRS that supports Scotland’s circular economy ambitions and target of being carbon neutral by 2045 and we look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to make this happen.”

Trade Associations

The Association of Convenience Stores said: 

"We have a unique opportunity to create a workable and effective deposit return scheme through Circularity Scotland, and the Association of Convenience Stores is committed to meeting this challenge alongside colleagues and partners from retail, the wider industry, and everyone who can unite behind this common objective.”

Dr Marnie Millard OBE, British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) President, said

“The British Soft Drinks Association welcomes the Scottish Government’s announcement to appoint Circularity Scotland Limited as a scheme administrator for its Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). We look forward to participating in a review of timescales that will help ensure delivery of a well-designed DRS system in Scotland that works for consumers and businesses.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said

“This is an important milestone on Scotland’s journey towards a truly circular economy. We are proud to have played our part taking up the challenge from the Scottish Government to develop and implement a world-class DRS for Scotland and have total confidence in Circularity Scotland Ltd as the scheme administrator to enable this. We should not though under-estimate the scale of the challenge still ahead and be under no illusion that this will come at a significant cost to business at a very challenging time. We will therefore be urging the Scottish Government to consider how it can reduce the regulatory burden on our sector over the course of the next Parliament.”

Stuart Reddish, National President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagent, said: 

“The appointment of Circularity Scotland as the Deposit Return Scheme administrator is the next important step in getting DRS up and running and the NFRN welcomes this news. As the first retail trade association to support the introduction of DRS in Scotland, we now look forward to working on the implementation of the scheme so that our members – news and convenience retailers across Scotland – can assist their communities by providing return points. By doing so we can all help Scotland achieve its target of a 90% return rate.”

Dr Pete Cheema OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation, said: 

“As a founder member of Circularity Scotland, Scottish Grocers Federation is delighted that the company has been appointed as scheme administrator. Our industry has worked together in a remarkable way to deliver a very robust and very high-quality application to the Scottish Government. We now have an opportunity to move forward and create a world-leading scheme. Convenience stores in Scotland are absolutely central to the successful operation of the scheme. Their participation will ensure an efficient and truly Scotland-wide DRS. We look forward to working collaboratively with all our colleagues at Circularity Scotland.’’

Colin Smith, Chief Executive of Scottish Wholesale Association, said: 

“This is an important milestone in delivering a circular economy for the food and drink supply chain. Where, as wholesalers help to restock, restart and rebuild our hospitality and retail customers on the high streets and city centres, we do so knowing this huge commitment has been made towards a greener recovery and that complements our industry’s own decarbonisation plans. As founding members of Circularity Scotland Ltd, the Scottish Wholesale Association look forward to working with the board representatives in implementing the UK’s first deposit return scheme and one that reflects the whole supply chain.”

Retail and wholesale

Richard Holloway, Regional Managing Director for Aldi Scotland, said: 

“At Aldi, we are committed to further increasing the proportion of our range that comes from recycled materials. We look forward to working with Circularity Scotland to support the development of the DRS system in Scotland, to help provide even more sustainable options for our customers.

Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager Co-op, said

“We are very supportive of a deposit return system which will directly increase recycling and reduce littering and are delighted to help its implementation throughout Scotland. Circularity Scotland will be absolutely key to making the system a success.”

Martina Petrovic, Head of Comms and CSR at Lidl GB, said: 

“At Lidl GB, we are committed to eliminating plastic waste and believe Scotland’s DRS system is a giant step in helping to tackle this important issue and protecting the environment for the future. We are proud to be one of the founding members of Circularity Scotland Ltd, and we are looking forward to bringing our extensive experience of developing successful DRS systems in other European countries to bear in Scotland and ensure the scheme is rolled out just as effectively.”

David Potts, Chief Executive of Morrisons, said: 

“Morrisons is delighted to support the creation of a ground-breaking organisation that will collect and recycle drinks containers sold in Scotland. Managing resources in an effective circular system is fundamental to protecting our environment and tackling the climate crisis.”

Judith Batchelar, Director of CR&S and Public Affairs at Sainsbury’s, said

“Sainsbury’s is proud to be a founding member of Circularity Scotland. We’ve been trialling the DRS scheme in our stores since 2019 as part of our drive to cut plastic through removing, reusing, replacing and recycling. The DRS system in Scotland not only supports a circular economy but also helps provide our customers with another easy way to recycle at our stores. It is a truly positive step towards our shared vision to protect the environment now and for generations to come.”

Tony McElroy, Tesco Head of Waste Campaigns, said:

“Tesco believes a viable DRS scheme can play an important part in making it easier for customers to recycle, and we are pleased to play our part in helping develop this. Our trials of DRS have gone well as we work to Remove and Reduce plastic, Reuse more packaging and make sure everything we do use can be recycled.”


For more information or media interviews with initial members of Circularity Scotland, please contact Shaun Bell or Jen Ward at Stripe Communications on or call 07969 126951.


Initial members

The companies and trade associations that initially comprise Circularity Scotland are:

Producers including A.G. Barr plc, AB InBev UK Limited, Accolade Wines Limited, Asahi UK Ltd, Britvic Soft Drinks Limited, Coca-Cola European Partners Great Britain Limited, Danone Waters UK & Ireland, Heineken UK Limited, Highland Spring Ltd, Nestlé Waters UK, Refresco Beverages UK Limited, Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I, and Tennent Caledonian Breweries UK Limited. 

Retail members include Co-operative Group Limited, Lidl Great Britain Limited, Marks and Spencer plc, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited, Tesco Stores Limited, Aldi Scotland and Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc. 

They are joined by retail and wholesale trade associations including Association of Convenience Stores, National Federation of Retail Newsagents and Scottish Wholesale Association.

The British Beer and Pub Association whose members include: Keg Logistics, Admiral Taverns Ltd, Adnams, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, Arkell’s Brewery, Asahi UK Ltd, Black Sheep Brewery, Brakspear Pub Company, Budweiser Budvar UK, C&C Group PLC, Caledonian Hertaible Ltd, Cermons Brewing Ltd, Carlsberg UK, Daleside Brewery, Daniel Batham & Son Ltd, Daniel Thwaites PLC, Diageo PLC, Everards Brewery Ltd, Frederic Robinson Ltd, Fuller, Smith and Turner PLC, George Bateman & Son Ltd, Gray & Sons, Greene King, G1 Group, Hall & Woodhouse Ltd, Harvey & Son (Lewes) Ltd, Harviestoun Brewery, Heavitree Brewery PLC, Heineken UK, Heron & Brearley Ltd, Hogs Back Brewery Ltd, Holden’s Brewery Ltd, Hook Norton Brewery Co Ltd, Hydes Brewery, Innis & Gunn, J.W. Lees & Co, Joseph Holt Ltd, Laine’s Brewery, Liberation Group, Marston’s PLC, McMullen & Sons Ltd, Molson Coors, Hawthorne Leisure, Palmers, Punch, RW Randall Ltd, Rosemount Taverns, S. A. Brain & Co Ltd, Shepherd Neame Ltd, St Austell Brewery Co Ltd, T&R Theakston, Thomas Hardy Brewing & Packaging, Timothy Taylor’s & Co Ltd, Titanic Brewery, Trust Inns, Wadworth & Co Ltd, Wells & Co, Woodforde’s Brewery, and Youngs & Co’s Brewery.

The British Soft Drinks Association whose members include: AM Fresh, Aston Manor, Belvoir Fruit Farms, Clearly Drinks Ltd, Corrigan’s Original, Cracker Drinks Co, Encirc, Fentimans, Fruits of Jannah, Global Brands, Good Natured (Happy Monkey) Ltd, Holy Industries, innocent, Jolly’s Drinks, Kingsland Drinks, Kingsley Beverages UK Ltd, Nexba UK, Nichols plc, PepsiCo International Ltd, Princes Gate Spring Water Ltd, Princes Ltd, Purity Soft Drinks, Radnor Hills, Red Bull UK Ltd, Roxane UK, SHS Group Drinks Division, Sneak Energy, Stute Foods, Symrise, Tata Consumer Products, Tropicana UK Ltd, Vitamin Well, and The Wonderful Company.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association whose members include: Accolade Wines, Awin Barratt Siegel, Distil PLC, Harpalion Spirits Ltd, Keepr’s, One Gin, Renegade Urban Winery, Alpine Wines, Bancroft Wines, Jensen’s, California Wines, Digby Fine English, Fox & Fox Mayfield, and Gordon & Macphail. 

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation whose members include: Batley’s - Best One, Clydebank Co-op, Costcutter Supermarkets, David’s, Kitchen, EROS Retail, G101, Keystore, Lothian Stores, Motor Fuel Group, Nisa, PGMA, Scotfresh, United Wholesale Grocers and United Wholesale Scotland.

Background information

  • In the next few months, other companies will sign up as members to broaden the representation of companies supporting Circularity Scotland. All producers are expected to register with Circularity Scotland, which will act on their behalf.
  • Circularity Scotland will be responsible for making sure the DRS functions efficiently and meets its annual collection targets. It will organise the collection of empty bottles and cans from the thousands of reverse vending machines and manual return points located across Scotland.
  • Circularity Scotland also handles producer and return point fees and payment of deposits and take responsibility for registering retailers and producers who will be involved in the scheme.
  • Producers will add the 20p fee to prices charged to wholesalers, who pass it to the retailer, who, in turn, pass it on to the eventual consumer. Consumers will be reimbursed by return point operatorswhich will include the majority of Scotland’s retailers and hospitality premiseswhen they bring back in-scope containers, either with physical money or credits.
  • The retailer, in turn, is reimbursed by Circularity Scotland, which collects and ratifies the returned material from the retailer. Circularity Scotland is then reimbursed by the producer, and the loop starts again.
  • The plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans collected by Circularity Scotland will be recycled and fed back into the production cycle for new bottles and cans. The scheme is projected to cut 4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over 25 years.
  • The Governments and Assemblies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland intend to launch deposit and return schemes from 2023 onwards.
  • Since Norway introduced a deposit return scheme in 1999, it is now recovering 98% of PET plastic bottles.