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The basics

The scheme design is a blueprint for a world-class recycling system that makes it easy for everyone to recycle their bottles and cans.

Scotland’s deposit return scheme will improve recycling rates, increase the quality of recycling materials, and significantly reduce litter. Consumers will be able to return containers to any shop or takeaway that sells them.

We are the first nation in the UK to commit to a scheme which is proudly ambitious. It’s been designed for Scotland’s unique needs.

Deposit return is established in many countries, as an effective way of diverting resources from being thrown pointlessly away, instead capturing them for recycling. This generates carbon savings, tackles climate change and prevents litter.

It is an important step in the fight against climate change, saving the equivalent of 4million tonnes of CO2 over 25 years.

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme has been designed to make it easy for us all to do the right thing. 

It incentivises behaviour change, presents a symbolic challenge to a throwaway culture and is a significant further step on our journey to developing a more circular economy.

It will protect our beautiful country and its environment for generations to come.

Together we can make Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme world-class.

Scotland was the first UK nation to commit to the introduction of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers.

When will it start?

Scotland was the first UK nation to commit to the introduction of a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers. 

The Scottish Government intends to introduce legislation later this year. Once the regulations are passed by the Scottish Parliament, there will then be an implementation period of at least 12 months before the scheme is established.

You can see some historical context.

How will it be implemented?

The scheme design has been published. The Scottish Government will now draft legislation and put it to the Scottish Parliament for debate.

A new entity will be established to run Scotland’s deposit return scheme.   The scheme will be managed by those businesses who have a responsibility for delivery of the scheme: the producers of the drinks and retailers. As a form of extended producer responsibility, it will be paid for through three sources of funding: unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of materials and a producer fee. This is how most schemes are run around the world.

An Implementation Advisory Group, comprising industry representatives, has been set up to provide industry input and guidance on delivering an effective scheme, as well as testing assumptions and decisions about how it is delivered.

You can learn about the public consultation process already completed and see some examples of existing deposit return schemes around the world.

Deposit return will increase the quality and value of materials for recycling.

What is the scheme design?

The deposit return scheme will apply to PET plastic bottles (for example fizzy drinks and water bottles), glass bottles and steel/aluminium drinks cans. All drinks that come in those container types will be included, both soft drinks and alcoholic.

Prices for drinks in those types of containers will include a deposit of 20p per container.

The scheme aims to capture 90% of drinks containers for recycling within three years.

Deposit return will improve recycling rates and reduce litter in Scotland.

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