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Scottish Deposit Return System Delayed

The planned introduction of a Scottish Deposit Return System has been pushed back one year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, has laid the final regulations for Scotland’s deposit return system (DRS). The original draft legislation slated commencement of the scheme for 1 April 2021, however this has been pushed back one year.

The new date for the scheme to go live is now 1st July 2022. Ms Cunningham stated the change was to allow retailers and producers “time to prepare for a successful scheme from day one”.

Flexibility in the immediate term was put forward as the main reason to hold off from implementing the DRS. As the world continues to prioritise health in the wake of Covid-19, many retailers will be under strain from the economic downturn.


This [delay] will give businesses more time to prepare their premises for the scheme and crucially, provides flexibility in the immediate term as the whole country prepares to deal with Covid-19 - the impact of which continues to be closely monitored.

Roseanna Cunningham

Environment Secretary

Concerns had previously been raised about the intended launch date, with criticism that it was too ambitious for such a wide-reaching system to have the appropriate infrastructure in place. Other than a change to the go-live date, the bill remains the same, despite concerns by industry representatives of glass and steel as to the proposed list of materials collected.

The delay raises further questions over the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on other environmental legislation, primarily the UK Environmental Bill, which also proposes implementation of a DRS by 2023.

The Environment Bill was published at the end of January this year but is now suspended due to the pandemic. It has yet to reach the House of Lords for the three readings needed for it to pass into law.

This is another potential blow to the government consultations for the waste and resources sector, which already experienced delays after the general election last year. Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging at Clarity Environmental, expressed his concern for timelines in light of current global events.

“It is a difficult time for many businesses as the economic and social impacts of the pandemic dominates our lives. The delay of the Scottish DRS system is not unexpected, and many will now wonder whether we will see other delays to UK legislation. With many small and medium businesses focused on recovery and establishing business as usual, it will be important to allow sufficient time to also prepare for legislative and financial changes for their packaging compliance. We will, of course, continue to keep our members up to speed with any possible changes should they arise.”

Future-proof with Clarity Environmental

We are encouraging our packaging compliance members to consider making changes to packaging now to avoid the future costs of inaction. We can help by looking at your data, the packaging you use and the opportunities for reducing the impact of packaging. If you are concerned that future changes to extended producer responsibility will impact your business get in touch to find out how our team can help you prepare.

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