If your hospitality business serves drinks in single-use glass, metal or PET plastic containers for customers to consume off the premises, you must charge a deposit and operate a return point for consumers to return any container included in Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme.

Like retailers, many takeaways and cafes, and some bars and restaurants, will have to advertise the deposit as a distinct and separate cost to the purchase price.

If you sell any drinks to take away you will need to act as a return point for the deposit return scheme 

On site consumption

If your customers only consume the drinks you sell on site and that you collect all the containers, you can operate what’s known as a closed loop system. This means you can choose not to charge customers a deposit and recover the 20p you pay your wholesaler or producer by getting containers collected directly by the scheme administrator. This also means you don’t have to operate a public return point.

What you need to know 

Handling fee

Return point operators will receive a handling fee designed to cover the costs of the time, equipment and additional storage space needed to operate the scheme. The level of this fee will be determined annually by independent consultants to ensure it remains reasonable and current.

For premises with on site consumption the fee will only cover consumables likes bags and tags.

Collection process

Collection will be free of charge which will result in a saving to retailers who currently pay for the removal of disposable drinks containers on their premises. Collection activities will operate seven days a week - the current model is that RVMs are visited daily while Return Points operating manual handling are serviced weekly or fortnightly. Collection frequencies will be adjusted to meet demand and ensure efficient operation as the system beds in.

Each bag, box or bin collected will be security tagged with a unique identifier for the return point operator so they can track its progress through the system.

We recognise that additional, one-off collections may be necessary at specific return points.  This might be triggered when a return point with limited storage capacity experiences a surge following a local event such as a music festival or sports match.

You will be able to request additional collections through the return point operator app, on the our website or by calling the customer call centre. There will be agreed timeframes for such collections.

Payment frequency 

Repayments of deposits paid out by return point operators will be around 7 days after the collection of their containers. For manual return points, the process is triggered when the containers collected have been processed at the counting centre.   

For automatic return points (RVMs), it is when the sacks have been scanned on arrival at the counting centre.  We are committed to offering the same level of service to return points at all locations across Scotland - no matter how remote.  

Return options

Manual handling

This is when a retailer accepts returned containers over the counter and repays consumers from the till, using accounting and reporting systems to obtain reimbursement from the scheme administrator. They will store returned containers on-site, in bags and boxes provided, ready for collection by the scheme administrator’s nominated logistics partner. Circularity Scotland collects the material and validates each container at a counting centre, and redeems deposits as appropriate.

An app will be created to help you and your staff identify what is included in the scheme and what is not.

Reverse vending machines 

Reverse vending machines (RVM) are sophisticated machines that can identify drinks containers inserted and refund consumers’ deposits once the container has been scanned and validated. RVMs can generate vouchers that can be used at retailers to pay for shopping or get a cash refund at the till. 

They store the recyclable materials returned securely for collection and have been successfully used to support many other deposit return schemes around the world. The expense of buying or leasing these machines means that they only really make economic sense for retailers or large hospitality premises handling large volumes of containers.

Deposit visibility

You must clearly advertise the 20p deposit paid for the drink container distinctly from the product’s price.

Closed loop

Unless all the drinks containers you sell stay on the premises, you must charge deposits and operate a return point.


All businesses using deposit containers will get free recycling collections.

Handling Fee

You’ll receive a handling fee for the containers you accept to cover the extra costs of meeting the scheme’s requirements.

Containers included

All single use drinks containers made of glass, PET plastic or metal from 50ml to 3 litres are in the scheme


You will be reimbursed in full for returned containers around 7 days after the collection


You will need to charge a deposit on all the containers included under DRS legislation and operate a return point that will accept any deposit-bearing containers . Because some of your containers will be going off-site and going to other return points you have a legal responsibility to accept containers that are presented to you. Customers paying deposits, and consuming the product on-site, can simply redeem it by presenting the empty container to your return point.

If all the drinks are consumed on site and you can collect them on site, you do not need to operate a return point.You can simply get the scheme administrator to collect all your deposit-bearing containers and refund the deposits you have paid your supplier or the producer.

Yes. We will need to know where you are so we can arrange for collections of returned containers. We’ll also need to reimburse you for the deposits you will have paid out and you’ll be due handling fees to cover any costs incurred operating the return point.