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Scheme design

How will it work?

The scheme will be available throughout Scotland.

Consumers pay a small deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container. The deposit will be 20p.

Consumers get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can. Businesses that sell drinks to be opened and consumed on-site, such as pubs and restaurants, will not have to charge the deposit to the public and will only be required to return the containers they sell on their own premises.



The following materials are covered by the scheme:

  • PET plastic bottles (like most fizzy drinks and water bottles)
  • Steel and aluminium cans
  • Glass bottles

All types of drinks in these containers and all containers above 50 ml (items such as whisky miniatures are 50ml) and up to 3 litres (such as a beer keg) in size are included.

Across Scotland, wherever people can buy a drink in a container made from one of these materials, from the islands to our major cities, then they will also be able to return it to reclaim the deposit.

Online retailers will also be included in the scheme, ensuring it’s accessible to people that are dependent on online delivery.

It will be just as easy to return a drinks container, as it is to buy one.

As well as retailers and hospitality businesses, schools and other community hubs will be able to act as return locations.

There will be two ways consumers can return their empty containers – over the counter, or by using a reverse vending machine (RVM). An RVM is a machine that scans containers when they are returned and then refunds your deposit.  There will a range of ways you can get your deposit back, for example cash at a till, a token or discount voucher or digitally. The returned containers are stored in the machine and are then collected for recycling.

Community organisations will also have the opportunity to get involved as collection points. The scheme has been designed to be as accessible as possible to people.

The scheme aims to capture 90% of containers which attract a deposit for recycling.

It’s intended that the Deposit Return Scheme will be run by an independent, privately-run, not-for-profit company. 

The scheme will be paid for through three sources of funding: unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of materials and a producer fee. 

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