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Delay to Scottish Deposit Return System confirmed

Scottish DRS system looks to be delayed until 2023 at the earliest, causing concern for environmental activists

The Deposit Return System (DRS), which was originally planned for roll out in Scotland in April 2021, has now been delayed for the second time, and looks likely to be introduced in 2023 to 2024. 

The Scottish Deposit Return Scheme is planned to be all-in, setting a 20p deposit for on-the-go bottles between 50ml and 3 litres made of PET plastic, metal or glass. 

Lorna Slater, Scottish minister for green skills, circular economy, and biodiversity, said the Scottish Government was committed to getting the DRS up and running “as soon as practically possible.” 

There has been criticism from environmental groups of ‘kicking the legislation down the line.’ A government spokesperson highlighted that an independent review was commissioned to assess the readiness and go-live date, to allow for the scheme to be introduced as soon as possible for businesses that will be affected.  

Several key points were highlighted as holding up the system, particularly the impact of Brexit and the global pandemic on supply lines impacting business’s ability to prepare for DRS. The Green MSP also said there had been a “lack of clarity” from the UK government over the tax status of the 20p deposits, saying she had only heard from the Treasury on Tuesday that “they do not see a route to remove VAT from deposits”. 

Many stakeholders understand the importance of DRS, EPR and other measures set out in the Environment Bill, but businesses are struggling to prepare as a result of these ongoing delays and a distinct lack of certainty.

Charlotte Briggs

Policy and Engagement Lead

Charlotte Briggs, Policy and Engagement Lead at Clarity Environmental commented: 

“Whilst the delay will ultimately give the government and retailers a better chance of success in establishing a Deposit Return System for Scotland, it does highlight some of the push-back the UK government has seen over whether the resources and waste strategy can be implemented with sufficient time and resources to prepare.  

“Many stakeholders understand the importance of DRS, EPR and other measures set out in the Environment Bill, but businesses are struggling to prepare as a result of these ongoing delays and a distinct lack of certainty. Until we can have some clear guidance, all stakeholders remain in a state of limbo.” 


Understanding your obligations

There are several environmental regulations that businesses must adhere to when placing packaging on the UK market. From the current packaging regulations to the upcoming Plastic Packaging Tax. To understand how this may impact your business contact our expert team. 


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