It was announced on 7 June that the Scottish deposit return scheme (DRS) will be delayed again until October 2025, the expected launch date for the rest of the UK nations. The Scottish DRS was initially planned to be launched in July 2022.
The latest delay is at least partly due to the UK parliament’s decision on 27 May to grant Scotland an exemption from the Internal Markets Act (IMA), on the provision glass bottles are excluded from the scheme.
Circular Economy minister for Scotland, Lorna Slater, has said “I told parliament yesterday that our scheme cannot proceed as planned. The refusal of the UK government alone to budge on glass makes that obvious. As of today, it is now clear that we have been left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS until October 2025 at the earliest based on the UK Government’s current stated aspirations.”
It is unclear yet as to whether Scotland will exclude glass, or heed other stipulations delivered with the exemption from the IMA, such as agreeing a cap on deposit levels in each of the four nations.
Biffa, the contracted logistics supplier for the Scottish system, is reported to have invested £60 million in preparing for an earlier launch date and may need to reimburse investors. Circularity Scotland, the deposit management organisation, has equally invested significantly in preparations.
David Harris, Chief Executive of Circularity Scotland, has stated “This is clearly a disappointing outcome, which will have a significant impact on investment in Scotland… The Board of Circularity Scotland will now consider the impact of this announcement and our immediate priority will be communicating with our people. We will provide further updates in due course”.
Robbie Staniforth, Innovation and Policy Director at Ecosurety, commented "This delay was all but inevitable given the wranglings between Scottish and UK governments over the Internal Markets Act. We hope that the four Governments will use the runway granted by Scotland to come up with a UK-wide scheme that prioritises refillable drinks containers and helps with a transition away from single-use packaging. The common feature of the scheme design across all UK nations is that they will all prioritise increasing capture rates for recycling when the real prize is to help manufacturers move to a more circular model of refillable containers.
We urge producers not to take this delay as indicative of UK Governments reneging on their commitment to producer responsibility. The legislation for EPR data reporting was passed earlier this year, and obligated producers will, therefore, still be expected to report how much packaging they placed onto the market in the first half of this year by 1st October 2023. This delay makes it even more important for drinks manufacturers to engage as they will be part of the broader EPR scheme until at least 2025."
Prepare for the new launch date
It’s important to determine if your organisation is affected by the DRS. All producers of in-scope drink containers will be required to register, pay fees and meet a collection target set by government, with many further details still to be confirmed.
If you are affected by the Deposit Return Schemes and need further guidance, Ecosurety 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 today.