UK DRS delayed to 2027

UK Government announces delay to the deposit return scheme with a date of October 2027

The UK Government has delayed the UK-wide go live date for the deposit return scheme to October 2027 marking a delay of two years.

THE UK-wide go-live date for the deposit return scheme (DRS) has been delayed until October 2027, the UK Government has announced.

Following a Government Response posted in January 2023 which said the inital go-live date of October 2025 was a “stretching target date”, Westminster has now confirmed this new delay of two years.

Robbie Moore, minister for water and rural growth, said: “Following extensive engagement with industry, who will be responsible for delivering the DRS, and a review of international approaches to DRS implementation, additional time will be needed to efficiently and effectively roll out the schemes across the UK.

“With the agreement of Ministerial colleagues across the devolved administrations, the DRS will go live in October 2027.

“Until then, we are committed to engaging with industry and working with a Deposit Management Organisation candidate(s) to finalise the next steps towards DRS implementation.”

Moore also confirmed that glass will still not be included as part of the UK-wide DRS, claiming that it would only “create undue complexity” for retailers and return handlers.

And despite the Welsh Government confirming it will include glass as part of its DRS, Westminster has confirmed there will be no additional charges on imported glass bottles coming into the UK.

There has been plenty of speculation over the viability of the 2025 go-live date for some time now, with very little information published about the scheme with, what initially would have been, only 18 months to go.

However, the move has been broadly welcomed by industry members across the board, with David Thomson, chief executive officer at the Food and Drink Federation Scotland, stating: “We welcome today’s confirmation that a UK-wide Deposit Return Scheme will be put in place – this will play an important part in achieving Scotland’s circular economy ambitions.

“Drinks containers will be able to be recycled and used again more efficiently and easily, this is good news for our environment, our businesses, and our people.”

Major global drinks giants have also agreed the latest delay is for the best with plenty noting it will allow a fresh start of the scheme for the UK.

Paul Graham, managing director for Great Britain at Britvic PLC, said the announcement will bring the UK closer to its goal of delivering a “truly circular economy, and ensure that great packaging never becomes waste.”

Carol Robert, chief operating officer at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, similarly noted this announcement will ensure “the stopwatch starts again in the UK’s race to build an effective deposit return scheme.”

Stephen Moorhouse, GB general manager at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, added: “To make sure DRS is a success, we must have truly interoperable schemes in place across England, Scotland and Wales. We call on all parties and governments to work together to ensure that the schemes move forward with pace and with consistency of materials in scope.”

However, charity organisations have slammed Westminster’s move to delay the scheme noting that litter will continue to pile up during the period.

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “Their decision to postpone introduction to October 2027 is nothing short of disastrous for the environment and a slap in the face for anyone who cares about the state of litter in this country.  

 “This delay means oceans of bottles and cans will continue to needlessly pile up in bins and continue to be strewn on roadsides and in our green spaces, rather than being recycled.

“The exclusion of glass is again hugely disappointing. Glass containers start fires and cause harm to people, pets and wildlife. This is why 78% of people want to see it included in a deposit return scheme.

“We estimate that between now and October 2027 an eye watering 25 billion bottles and cans will be littered, buried or burned.”