Deposit Return Scheme Delay

Scotland’s First Minister announced yet another delay to Scotland’s Deposit Return.

The scheme, originally due to begin in early 2021 has now been delayed three times until the beginning of March 2024.

In the 1065 days the scheme will now have been delayed, an estimated 2.5 billion drinks containers being littered, landfilled, or incinerated, and almost 500,000 tonnes of avoidable CO2 emissions will have been released [1].

Similar schemes have been rolled out in almost 50 jurisdictions worldwide, and Scotland’s is comparable to these [2]. However, the Scottish scheme has been subject to intensive lobbying from big businesses, primarily from the alcohol industry. Following similar lobbying, the Scottish Government have put in place delays twice already.

Dr Kat Jones, Director of APRS said “The scheme should have started more than two years ago, after being first announced in 2017. Instead of having a successful deposit return scheme right now, the cost of litter is still falling on taxpayers, communities, and the environment.

“Yet another delay to Scotland’s deposit return system should send a chill down the spine of everyone who understands the environmental crisis we face.

“If we cannot manage to implement this most basic and commonly used circular economy measure, how will Scotland be fit to deal with the considerable challenges of the climate and nature crises. This further delay is a betrayal of Scotland’s natural environment.

“Both governments need to get their act together if a third delay is not to become a fourth or worse.”

[1] Based on data from Zero Waste Scotland

[2] Reloop Global Deposit Book 2022

Read our briefing as to why glass is in Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme and how this will work for hospitality.

  • Glass and the Scottish Deposit Return Scheme

    APRS has always campaigned for an “all-in” deposit return which includes glass. This briefing gives a run-down of the rationale for including glass in the scheme and some pointers for how this will work specifically for hospitality.

  • Deposit Return and Hospitality

    Hospitality businesses where drinks are either consumed on the premises or taken away for off-site consumption will see an immediate financial benefit from deposit return. In addition, decreases in litter will make Scotland more appealing to tourists. This will provide a much needed boost for an industry that has been hard hit in recent years, while improving the environment for Scottish residents and visitors alike

Due to launch on April 1st 2021, APRS is counting the number of delays the scheme has been delayed.

Boy holding up bottle from little pick


Help us gather litter data before and after the Deposit Return launch in Scotland to show the impact this circular economy initiative will make!

Walkers walking away from the camera in Ross-Shire countryside

An APRS membership or donation will help support our work to protect all of Scotland’s rural landscapes.

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