APRS Resources

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.

What are the benefits for hospitality businesses?

Hospitality will receive a small handling fee in return for participating in the deposit return scheme. This is 0.13p per container if drinks are consumed on the premises, and higher fees if drinks are sold for take-away. Handling fees for closed loop systems, such as in hospitality, are somewhat rare in deposit return schemes worldwide. If you sell drinks to take away, you will receive the full handling fee of 2.69p per container. 

Trade waste, which can currently cost businesses hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year, will also reduce hugely as a result of deposit return. The scheme administrators, Circularity Scotland, will be responsible for removing containers from your premises. This will be free of charge to return points, meaning that there will be a cost reduction for businesses paying for trade waste costs. 

What does this mean for you?

Businesses that sell drinks to take away (cafés and takeaways) and those that sell drinks to be consumed on-site only (pubs and restaurants) will have different obligations.

If you sell any drinks for off-site consumption, you will have to charge the deposit to your customers on those drinks and operate a return point. All deposits will be reimbursed by the scheme administrator. 

If you sell drinks for on-site consumption only, you will not have to charge a deposit on any drinks you sell or operate as a general return point.

The scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, will be responsible for collecting any drinks containers for recycling from return points, including hospitality businesses. This will be done free of charge. 

Why is this needed?

SEPA estimates that the commercial and industrial recycling rates are currently 53%, and waste has steadily reduced year on year. However, with almost half of all trade waste being landfilled or incinerated, it is clear we need substantive policy measures to improve commercial recycling rates and meet our targets of 70% recycling rates by 2025 [1]. Deposit return is expected to contribute towards increasing recycling rates. 

Deposit return also results in higher quality recyclate when compared to kerbside recycling, ensuring that bottles are turned back into bottles and cans are turned back into cans. 

What are the benefits for the environment?

Deposit return is internationally proven to reduce litter, cut carbon emissions, and boost recycling rates. It is an important step in moving towards a more sustainable, circular economy. 

Deposit return will 

  • Reduce carbon emissions by 4 million tonnes over 25 years
  • Decrease the litter in our towns, countryside, and waterways by roughly one third
  • Capture an estimated 1.5 billion drinks containers for recycling every year [2]

These benefits will make Scotland a cleaner, greener country, and benefit our tourism and hospitality sectors. 

Does this work elsewhere?

Deposit return is successfully in place in almost 50 countries and jurisdictions worldwide, with countless businesses supporting the scheme. These include areas like New South Wales, which presents reassuring parallels to Scotland, as NSW also has remote rural areas, world-famous cities, an extensive coastline, porous borders with the surrounding 

states, and a focus on tourism to support the economy. Scotland’s scheme is based on international best practices – we are not reinventing the wheel, but learning from the examples set by other countries. 

For more information on regulations and responsibilities, visit sepa.org.uk

To register for the scheme, visit circularityscotland.com

[1] Data from Scottish Government https://www.gov.scot/publications/consultation-delivering-scotlands-circular-economy-route-map-2025-beyond/pages/9/

[2] Based on data from Zero Waste Scotland

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