Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Name of Program
The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 [1]
Date Implemented Planned August 2023
Containers Covered

All single-use containers between 50 mL and 3 L made of the following materials:

  • PET Plastic
  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Glass
Containers Not Covered

Containers made of the following materials

  • Mixed material pouches
  • Cartons
  • HDPE
  • Cups
  • Reusable glass containers
Fees and Taxes


Refundable Deposit


Unclaimed deposits

Kept by system administrators to fund redemption scheme [2]

Handling Fees


Redemption System

Return to retailer (including remote sales) and designated return points

Program Success




On 5 September 2017, the Scottish Government released The Programme for Government 2017 to 2018, which set out a roadmap for the country to work towards supporting a healthy business environment, improving public services, navigating the then-ongoing Brexit political situation, and working towards fighting tackling change. As part of their pledge to promote a true circular economy, the Programme announced the creation of a deposit scheme for the entirety of Scotland, collaborating with Zero Waste Scotland to help design the scheme and coordinate with stakeholders. [3]

The measure is aimed at increasing recycling and tackling litter, and was announced alongside the establishment of an expert panel to consider fiscal and other measures, like a levy on single-use cups.

The Scottish government opened consultations for feedback on how to develop a planned deposit return scheme to the public, running from September 25, 2018 to June 27, 2018. Responses came from organizations, individuals and campaign respondents. Preliminary details regarding the scheme were published in May 2019 after consultation closed, analyzing the feedback. [4]

An independent analysis of the consultation responses was presented to Parliament on 10 September, 2019, with a set of proposed regulations for how the deposit scheme should function. [5] Specific guidelines include:

  • Refundable 20p deposit on single-use containers made of PET plastic, steel, aluminum, and glass.
  • "Return to any retailer selling drinks covered by the scheme." This includes online retailers.
  • Return points will be available, including recycling centers.
  • Target redemption percentage goals set for the first three years of the deposit scheme.

After finalizing regulations in March 2020, the Scottish Government voted to approve the Deposit Scheme Regulations on 14 May 2020. [6] In March 2021, Circularity Scotland, a newly-created non-profit comprised of industry stakeholders, was later announced to be in charge of administering the scheme, under the supervision of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). [7] The scheme was initially expected to be implemented in July 2022, with rolling revisions prior to the full implementation to prepare retailers. However, the scheme was postponed to August 2023 in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact; the government's still expects the scheme to meet its 90% recovery goal in 2024. [8] Retailers may voluntarily apply to accept containers starting in November 2022.

Ahead of the scheme's full implementation, an early voluntary scheme will begin in the Orkney Islands in 2022. [9]


[1]"Global Deposit Book 2020: An Overview of Deposit Systems for One-Way Beverage Containers." Reloop Inc. 15 December 2020.

[2] "Scheme Administrators." Zero Waste Scotland. Last Accessed 28 April 2021.

[3] "A nation with ambition: the Government's Programme for Scotland 2017-2018." Scottish Government. 5 September 2017.

[4] "Deposit return scheme for Scotland: full business case stage 1." Scotland Energy and Climate Change Directorate. 8 May 2019.

[5] "The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020: accompanying statement and proposed regulations." Scotland Energy and Climate Change Directorate. 10 September 2019.

[6] "Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme passed by Parliament." Zero Waste Scotland. 14 May 2020.

[7] "Circularity Scotland appointed as Deposit Return Scheme administrator for Scotland." Zero Waste Scotland. 24 March 2021.

[8] "Scotland’s deposit return scheme." Scottish Government. 14 December 2021.

[9] "McArthur to host local roundtable on bottle and can return scheme." The Orcadian. 30 January 2022.


Last Updated on 3 February 2022.

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