Deposit Return Scheme for all UK nations set for 2027

It was announced on 25 April by the UK government that a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in the four UK nations will now be introduced in October 2027, two years after the existing implementation date of 2025.

Further details, outlined in a joint policy statement, cover:  

  • Expected timelines: The regulations needed to implement the DRS will be in place in Spring 2025, a deposit management organisation (DMO) established by the following year, and a staggered roll out period between Spring 2026 and Autumn 2027. This phase will include the establishment of necessary infrastructure and producer data collection services ahead of the launch date.  

  • The size of in-scope containers: In consideration of operability in the schemes in each nation, a container size of 150ml – 3L will be applicable across the UK.  

  • Labelling: The statement confirms the DMOs will jointly decide on a singular logo that will be used in all four nations, alongside a “consistent approach for the use of an identification marker such as a barcode or a QR code placed on all DRS products”. 

  • Deposit amount: It is also confirmed in the publication that there will be a common deposit level across the schemes, that again will be set by the DMOs once they are established.  

  • Return point obligations: Supermarkets and convenience stores will need to act as return points under the regulations from day one of the scheme, but other businesses selling in-scope containers (such as takeaway shops and gyms) will not be obligated to but may wish to voluntarily. 

DRS and EPR fees

Crucially, the document reaffirms the decision – previously laid out in earlier consultation responses – that if schemes do go ahead, producers of drinks containers in 2027 won’t be subject to EPR fees given the expected costs of delivery. However, if the schemes are further delayed “producers of drinks containers meeting the definition of DRS packaging material will be subject to the full range of packaging EPR obligations” 

An additional statement on the issue of glass clarifies that England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will exclude glass from their systems. However, Wales remain intent on including glass, with the publication stating  “if their position does not change, we will reiterate the duty to protect the UK internal market and facilitate free trade within the UK”. 

If you're an Ecosurety Member and want to know more about how you're impacted by these changes, please contact your Account Manager, or email us at info@ecosurety.com.

Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 26/04/2024 Topics Packaging
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