Heads Up #4: The Deposit Return Scheme Legislation

In this final instalment, we review legislation that will be implemented in 2022. We look at the Deposit Return Scheme and its impact on consumers, shoppers, brands, environments, categories and stores.

Landing in Scotland in 2022

But first here is an ice breaker

Which of these European countries already run deposit return schemes?

Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden?

Answer: All of them.

Ice breaker 2:

What will require a 20p deposit in Scotland in 2022?

Answer: Any shop bought a drink in a single-use container (including packs in multipacks).


More countries are considering DRS as a means to reduce litter and encourage recycling. Simultaneously, many are questioning the impacts such systems have on communities and retailers.


  • 34,000 fewer plastic bottles littered every day
  • 17,000 return points across Scotland
  • £62 million a year to be saved tackling the indirect impacts of litter
  • 70+% of Scots want DRS
  • 76,000 additional tonnes recycled each year
  • DRS will cut 4 million tonnes of C02eq emissions over 25 years.

What types of drinks are included?

In Scotland in 2022 soft drinks, mixers, fruit and vegetable juice, dairy, spirits, beer, cider and wine, and others, RTD tea and coffee drinks will all be included in DRS.

The EU

The European Union Commission advises that any differentiation should, in principle, be based on the material containers the containers are made of, and not on the content of the beverages.


The return location where people can return their containers and reclaim their deposits is key to its success.

There are three options

  • Take it back to the place that sold the item originally
  • Return to a designated drop off point
  • or a mixture of taking back to the area of purchase or take back to a dedicated point.

But what about online shopping? Online grocery shopping is a popular option for some consumers. Using the delivery vehicles as a return location would increase accessibility, particularly for those who can’t access shops or other return points. But overall, there is no identified solution at this stage.


The UK government is using legislation to solve social and environmental habits to improve everyone’s health. After years of encouraging businesses to adopt a voluntary commitment to solving social and environmental issues, the legislation will be tightened to drive faster progress in 2022 and beyond.


The good news is that the UK Government has committed to reviewing the current producer responsibility system. The plan is to support a more circular economy and meet the EU Circular Economic Package’s cost recovery requirements. However, will this legislation have the desired effect on changing consumer behaviour whilst assisting in achieving recycling targets?

Finding growth in 2021 remains a priority for brands. If you haven’t yet planned for these circumstances, we would be delighted to help.

Source: https://depositreturnscheme.zerowastescotland.org.uk/