DRS delayed until 2025

Scotland’s deposit return scheme to launch October 2025 due to UK Government intervention

SotGov announces a further delay to Scotland’s incoming DRS to October 2025 falling in line with the UK go-live date.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that Scotland’s deposit return scheme will not launch until October 2025 at the earliest stage.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament today (7 June) Lorna Slater, circular economy minister for Scottish Government, said that the government was left with no choice but to delay the scheme to fall in line with the UK’s own go-live date in 2025.

She said: “it is now clear that we have been left with no option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS until October 2025 at the earliest based on the UK Government’s stated aspirations.

“I remain committed to interoperable DRS schemes across the UK, provided that we can work in the spirit of collaboration not imposition.

“I wrote again last night to the UK Government to urge ministers to reset a climate of trust and good faith, to galvanise and retain knowledge that has been built by Circularity Scotland and DRS partners in Scotland.”

This latest delay to the scheme follows on from a near fortnight of concerns and doubt whether the scheme will run at all in Scotland following the UK Government’s exemption from the Internal Markets Act so long as glass was removed from the scheme.

Slater stated during her speech that the fault for this further delay lay at the feet of the UK Government as she said that Westminster had agreed to a DRS scheme that included glass in the past and also approved Wales’ inclusion of it in January of this year.

She said: “It is England that has chosen to step out of line.”

Lorna Slater delivered the announcement to Parliament stating that the conflict from Westminster added to the delay.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, deputy head of the Scottish Retail Consortium, has said that the announcement today has “serious implications,” for Scotland’s investment into working towards a circular economy and achieving our 2040 Net Zero target. He urged for collaboration between the home nations going forward to deliver DRS for October 2025.

He said: “In the longer term this announcement provides an opportunity for the four home nations of the UK to come together to develop a comprehensive delivery plan, focused on consumers, based on delivering a coherent, comprehensive, clear and cost-effective deposit return scheme which can increase recycling and move to a more circular economy.

“Hitherto the scheme has been bedevilled by a rush to unachievable dates and a failure to take on board business reasonable and practical suggestions; there is an urgent need to move beyond that and deliver this as a project without the politics.”

David Harris, chief executive at Circularity Scotland, said: This is clearly a disappointing outcome, which will have a significant impact on investment in Scotland.

“We have made it clear that industry was prepared for the Deposit Return Scheme to go live in March 2024, and that a scheme without glass is both economically viable and is an opportunity for Scotland to provide a platform for a UK-wide DRS.

“Regrettably, further delaying the introduction of DRS will hinder Scotland’s progress towards net zero and mean that billions of drinks containers continue to end up as waste.”

Other industry members have welcomed the delay to the scheme, believing the extra time will only allow for a more streamlined introduction of the scheme and allow lessons to be learned.

Mo Razzaq, Blantrye retailer and deputy vice president of the National Federation of Independent Retailers, said: “As planning has not progressed well in Scoltand we can see the case for dropping the ambitious objective of including glass from the very beginning. Most other countries in Europe have phased in glass sometime after the launch of the core part of their return schemes.

“As it takes much energy to produce glass, we would urge the four nations of the UK to consider a scheme whereby drinks companies refill and reuse bottles multiple times rather than sending them to be crushed after one use.”

A spokesperson for the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Our businesses are working to stretching sustainability targets and take their responsibility to our natural environment very seriously, which is why we want to see a circular economy established rapidly, designed with industry and consumers at their heart.

“We hope governments across the UK will now take the time provided by this delay to go back to the drawing board on their waste reform proposals, to ensure that everything including consistent collections, DRS and EPR can be delivered successfully, learning the lessons from the collapse of the DRS scheme in Scotland.”


For all the latest updates on DRS click here to read further Scottish Grocer coverage on the matter.