Recycling

Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme to go live in 2023

The UK’s first deposit return scheme will go live across Scotland on 16 August 2023, helping to recycle billions of bottles and cans every year.

The announcement follows an independent review, which considered the impact of Covid-19 on the scheme, which was meant to launch in July 2022.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Minister, Lorna Slater, set out plans for a phased implementation of the scheme and said the target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024 will be maintained.

As part of the phased implementation, the Scottish Government is working with retailers on a voluntary basis to enable people to start returning their bottles and cans for recycling from November 2022.

At the same time, a community-run return scheme will begin operating in Orkney, which will see the Scottish Government, Orkney Islands Council, Zero Waste Scotland and Circularity Scotland working together on the initiative.

People will pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink that comes in a single-use container made of PET plastic, steel and aluminium, or glass and will get their money back when they return the empty container to one of tens of thousands of return points.

Commenting, Ms Slater said:

"This will be the first scheme of its kind in the UK and one of the most environmentally ambitious and accessible in Europe.

“Implementing a scheme on this scale is a massive national undertaking involving tens of thousands of producers and retailers.

“Given the challenges that the pandemic and Brexit have placed upon these businesses, it is disappointing, but understandable, that the independent review concluded the original start date was no longer feasible.

“Despite calls to water down the scheme by removing materials or waiting for other nations to catch up, we have maintained our ambition and ensured that the scheme will still meet its original target of achieving 90% collection rates by 2024.

“We have also published a clear plan for delivery, with critical milestones on the path to full implementation. These include use of return points on a voluntary basis by retailers from November 2022.

“I am also delighted that Orkney will go early in offering a return scheme, which will provide benefits to the local community and recycling.”

Chair of Orkney Islands Council's Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Graham Sinclair added:

“Orkney Islands Council is committed to working with both local and national organisations to improve recycling rates and to ensure that materials are kept in use for as long as possible.

“We welcome this initiative on the return of drinks containers in Orkney and are supportive of the aims and objectives. 

“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government, Circularity Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland to ensure that this initiative brings benefit to local community groups and increases opportunities for recycling drinks containers across all of Orkney.”

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