Deposit Return Scheme

Are you aware of how the Deposit Return Scheme will impact your business? Act now to mitigate increased costs.
What is the Deposit Return Scheme?

What is the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)?

The DRS is one of the key measures outlined by government in the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy and in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is scheduled to be implemented in 2025. The aim of the DRS is to increase capture of drinks containers for recycling. Consumers will pay a small deposit on PET plastic bottles and aluminium cans in England and Northern Ireland, with the same applying to Wales but with the additional inclusion of glass. It is still to be confirmed if glass will be included in Scotland's DRS. Drinks packaging from 50ml up to 3l will be obligated under the new system in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Scotland, packaging from 100ml up to 3l will be obligated, whilst in the Republic of Ireland, containers between 150ml and 3L will be in scope. The deposits can be refunded at a retailer return point or reverse vending machines.

Am I affected?

The exact detail for many of the DRS in the UK are yet to be finalised, but all producers of in-scope drink containers will be required to meet a collection target set by government. This will include those who import items to be sold in the UK. Scotland meanwhile has clarified some details already.

Each nation in the UK is implementing a DRS slightly differently, as summarised in this table. 

It has been confirmed that England and Northern Ireland will exclude glass from their DRS, but Wales will not. Scotland is yet to confirm if glass will be included. We do not yet know how the systems will interact but there may be complications for those putting glass bottles on the market.

It is also likely that England, Wales and NI will not implement a flat deposit rate, unlike Scotland, meaning there could be further complications and risks of fraud where different deposit amounts apply to different countries.


When is it taking place?

The DRS is planned to be implemented in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island in 2025.
Find out more about the latest government response to the DRS

How much will the DRS cost?

In England the deposit amount and costs to producers have not yet been confirmed, but the second consultation in 2021 sought stakeholder opinion. The consultation stated that the legislation will ensure the deposit levels can be adjusted – and proposes a minimum of 10-20p, and a maximum of 30-50p.

Scotland meanwhile has already confirmed a deposit cost of 20p with retailers expected to collect a target percentage of in-scope containers. 

Producer fees will be set to cover costs associated with the logistical, administrative and recycling activities surrounding the scheme. 



What do I need to do now?

It is important that you consider the following, especially to check if you need to register now:


If you are an obligated producer placing drinks containers on the market in the Republic of Ireland, you should register now. Visit re-turn.ie now to find out how.

If you're an obligated producer in Scotland, registration is now open with deadline of 12 January 2024 - however, this may change following news in June 2023 that the launch date has been pushed back to October 2025.

Registration details for England, Wales and NI are yet to be confirmed. 

Product categorisation and tracing

In-scope containers will likely have to be earmarked for the deposit mechanism, for instance via their SKU codes. This will be especially important given the four devolved administrations may have different DRS structures.


If you have a retail site that sells in-scope material, you will likely have to host consumer take back. This may involve installing a reverse vending machine or having a back of store area to keep empty containers. If you are a producer without physical retail sites, you may be obliged to collect scheme packaging from return points.

The DMO, if implemented, would be responsible for managing financial flows, including producer fees, logistics, and potentially infrastructural activities such as maintaining reverse vending machines. If this were the case, the logistical and administrative responsibilities above may be alleviated.




We are here to support you

If you think you could be affected by the Deposit Return Scheme, we can assist you through data assurance and analysis, including cost forecasting to model how your business will be impacted so that you can be fully prepared.
Request DRS support now

Future services and support

We are developing further services to support our members with the future requirements of the DRS and are working with government and industry to seek further clarification on the mechanics and requirements of the system. We will continue to offer guidance as legislation is updated and we will let our members know what further support we will provide in the future.

Find out more about packaging EPR

Discover if other Extended Producer Responsibility measures will impact you, including the Plastic Packaging Tax and modulated fees.