Deposit return scheme

Deposit Return Scheme Background

11 May 23 2 minutes

Scheme design

Zero Waste Scotland advised on the design of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme and continues to provide support on implementation.  

Deposit return schemes are already being used effectively in 50 countries and territories around the world, from Sweden to Saskatchewan. Many European countries with DRS achieve return rates above 90% with Germany capturing up to 98% of target containers. 

As such, together with the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland conducted in-depth evidence gathering and consulted with hundreds of organisations – from retailers and manufacturers to councils and community groups during scheme design, in Scotland, as well as the UK and around the world – learning from countries that already operate a deposit return scheme and building on our existing research. 

International Consultation

This covered as broad a range as possible; from countries with long-established schemes, such as Sweden, much newer schemes like those in Eastern Europe, and a wide range of different types of models. We engaged with schemes that operate a return-to-retail model, such as Finland or Lithuania, as well as Germany, where customers instead return their recycling to the depot. 

We consulted schemes which include glass, plastic and metal, such as Estonia and California, as well those which include fewer materials (such as The Netherlands) and schemes which include more materials (including several states in Australia). 

We engaged with schemes in countries which have similar geographical features to Scotland, like Sweden (which like Scotland has many islands). We also analysed the international performance of schemes when providing advice on key features such as the deposit level and the role of the scheme administrator. 

Zero Waste Scotland continues to remain apprised of international policy and change as it develops, through our relationships with bodies such as ACR+ and emerging schemes aligned to EU policy on Extended Producer Responsibility.