A year before the Scottish deposit return system

The recycling initiative will help create a circular economy.

The Scottish deposit system will go live for consumers in one year (August 16, 2023), giving businesses and consumers a simple way to boost recycling.

The scheme, which will be the first in the UK, will play an important role in Scotland’s journey towards a circular economy. Estimates from Zero Waste Scotland suggest the scheme will reduce emissions by nearly 160,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year on average, or the equivalent of 109,000 return flights from Edinburgh to New York.

The 20p deposit will also provide an incentive to reduce waste, helping to reduce the number of bottles and cans thrown away on streets and green spaces.

The program is implemented by Circularity Scotland Ltd., an industry-led body representing beverage producers, retailers and trade bodies of all sizes. This business-led approach is common among many of the most successful programs in Europe, including Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands.

The infrastructure for the scheme is now starting to roll out across Scotland, and businesses of all sizes are encouraged to act now to ensure they are ready for the scheme’s launch next year.

Businesses can register with Circularity Scotland, to ensure they receive information to help them prepare.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), which is the regulator for the scheme, has also launched a campaign that will help businesses understand their legal responsibilities and the steps they need to take to prepare.

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:

“Scotland is leading the way in the UK on the circular economy. By implementing a deposit system, we are responding to the public’s desire to see action on plastic and other waste, and making an important contribution to the response to the climate emergency.

“With thousands of return locations across the country, returning your empty bottle or can will be as easy as buying it in the first place. This will help nearly double the recycling rates for containers included in the program, while reducing the amount of litter on our streets and reducing CO2 emissions.

“This program is implemented by industry for industry. By putting businesses in charge, we are ensuring that it works for them. One year from the establishment of the program for consumers, I would encourage all companies and organizations that produce, ship or sell beverages to get involved with the program now.


SEPA has produced a series of information for regulated companies

Drinks producers and retailers can sign up to receive more information on the Circularity Scotland website.

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