Lorna Slater, Circular economy minister

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater

The Scottish Government has announced that the introduction of a deposit return scheme bottles and cans has been delayed and will go live across Scotland on 16 August 2023.

The announcement follows an independent review which highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on the scheme. The scheme was originally due to be introduced this year and this was then pushed back to July 2022 and has now been delayed for a further year.

Consumers will be charged a deposit of 20p when they buy a drink that comes in a single-use container made of PET plastic, steel and aluminium, or glass. The scheme will require all retailers in Scotland to take back containers and charge a 20p deposit on eligible containers, refundable on return.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “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 on these businesses, it is disappointing – but understandable – that the independent review concluded the original start date was no longer feasible.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman commented: “We welcome the clarification of the timelines for the introduction of a deposit return scheme in Scotland. This will allow more time to design and implement a scheme that will be workable and effective for both businesses and consumers. This is still a tight timescale and we all have to commit to working at pace over the next 20 months.

“There are still a number of important decisions to be made around handling fees as well as addressing key operational issues around manual handling and the handling of glass bottles. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and Circularity Scotland ahead of implementation to communicate the key priorities of our sector.

The Scottish Government is planning to work with retailers on a voluntary basis on a phased implementation which will enable consumers to start returning their bottles and cans for recycling from November 2022.