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Webinar: Implications of a DRS in Scot & Eng

»Date: 3rd June 2020, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

»Venue: Virtual Webinar (registration required)

»Led by: Freddie Joosten & Simon Stannard

»Open to: Trade and press, non-members welcome

»Who should attend: This event is aimed at producers and retailers

As Scotland has now passed legislation for the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme in July 2022, and the UK Government looks to introduce its own scheme in England, we will discuss what the implications are for producers and retailers. 


Register for this webinar:


This webinar will look to update members on:

  • The current Scottish DRS and a likely UK DRS
  • WSTA’s work so far on lobbying for the exclusion of glass
  • Implications of a UK DRS on producers and retailers
  • Scheme Administrators
  • Producer fees, labelling requirements, registration & compliance
  • Impact on businesses wishing to sell in-scope articles

A Deposit and Return scheme requires consumers to pay a deposit (e.g. 20p per item) when they buy a pre-packaged drink. This deposit can only be redeemed if the container is taken back to a Return point.  


Materials included in the Scottish scheme include PET plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans, and glass bottles. Glass has been included despite evidence that it hasn’t been included in the most successful schemes in Europe due to the burden it places on retailers in handling and storage, and the additional vehicular journeys required to transport it back to a return point, amongst other issues. 


The WSTA has being calling for glass to be excluded from these schemes as there are compelling reasons to retain glass in kerbside collections. We also want to ensure both the UK and Scottish Schemes are compatible, and to allow enough time for all those involved to preparfor a UK scheme. 

If you are a WSTA member, you will be able to access the full recording and slides using the following link. The link is password protected – the password can be found in the post-webinar email follow-up.


If you haven’t received the password, please email for access.



Five key learnings from this week’s webinar


The WSTA held a webinar this week on the implementation of DRS. A Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) was first proposed in 2013 in Scotland, with plans drawn up for its implementation by Zero Waste Scotland in 2017. The original intention of the scheme was to deter littering, however in recent years, and in WSTA’s conversations both north and south of the border, this has now morphed into a concentrated drive to improve recycling rates. The scheme will go live in Scotland in 2022, whilst the Conservative manifesto committed the government to implementing a UK-wide DRS scheme. There is strong environmental, social and economic evidence to suggest that glass should be exclude from the scheme.


1. Glass recycling rates across the UK are already very good

Currently, the EU has set a target of a 60% recycling rate for glass. The UK’s glass recycling rate is currently 70%, whilst in Wales this rate is about 90% – so we are exceeding target rates with current, well-established recycling systems. Other packaging materials, notably plastic and aluminium, are lower.


The WSTA has been clear in its view that to improve UK-wide recycling rates above 70% existing infrastructure i.e. kerbside collections should be built on to achieve the same results as seen in Wales, at a fraction of the cost and emissions of DRS.


The inclusion of glass in a DRS lead to substitution to other, less widely-recycled materials – microplastics are now a key issue, yet when the idea of a DRS was initially raised the threat to the environment posed by plastic was much less understood. There is a real issue that other materials could be substituted for glass packaging.


2. How will a DRS scheme work in Scotland from 2022, and how does Defra want a UK-wide DRS to work?
In Scotland, DRS will be the responsibility of a ‘scheme administrator’ – as yet, a scheme administrator has yet to be appointed. The following points wont be confirmed until a Scheme Administrator is appointed, but gave an indication of what we might expect, including:

  • Producers must keep records for 4 years on all packaging they handle
    Target recycling rates through the scheme are as follows: 70% by 2023, 80% by 2024, & 90% by 2025
  • Retailers will have a responsibility to signpost details of the scheme to consumers and will be repaid their costs via ‘handling fees’
  • Online retailers are obliged to offer a returns service for packaging
    For a UK-wide system, Defra have expressed a desire to align their system with Scotland – but it will be different, which might add further complication for members.
  • In order to achieve a 90% success rate for recycling, everyone must be on-board, with no de minimus. This could be a financial barrier to inclusion, notably for small producers.
  • A UK-wide scheme is likely to include the same materials that are in the scope of the scheme in Scotland, with some exemptions, for example for cartons, HDPE, and on-the-go coffee cups
  • A deposit fee of 20p deposit is written in Scottish legislation, whereas currently, Defra are minded to allow their scheme administrator to set the deposit level. WSTA and others have been very clear that the deposit should be uniform across the UK ie 20p


3. The WSTA has identified a number of frequently asked questions around the scheme:
– What will labelling requirements be?
There is no clarity around labelling requirements yet. The WSTA’s current understanding is that non-Scotland specific SKUs, if permitted, could attract a higher producer fee as these more susceptible to fraud
– What fees will producers have to pay?
Producer fees will be determined by Scottish scheme administrator, but could be modulated based on material type and recyclability.
– What costs will retailers incur in preparation for the scheme?
Retailers may incur upfront costs such as shop alterations which will be reimbursed over time via a handling fee
– Will retailers want to work with producers who are not members of scheme administrators?
Although producers can ‘go it alone’, this has the potential to present difficulties for small businesses and might influence a decision to jon a Scheme Administrator.
– How can it be ensured that scheme administrators are impartial and independent?
– When will a UK-wide scheme come into force?

Defra’s scheme was aimed for 2023 but this may be slipping, causing a larger time gap between Scotland and the UK.


4. What has the WSTA been doing?
The WSTA is continuing to make the case for the exclusion of glass with MPs. We are writing to George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The WSTA has cited the high risk of a UK recession, the far-reaching impact wrought on the economy and people’s way of life by the outbreak of Coronavirus, the scheme placing additional burdensome costs on business, and the potentially negative environmental impact of a scheme that includes glass in its correspondence with government. We have also made clear that it is important to wait for the impact of the scheme on Scotland to become clear – is a DRS scheme even financially viable?


5. The WSTA has summarised the current state-of-play on DRS as follows:
The scheme and its implementation is still unclear with many questions left unanswered. It should be recognised that ‘glass is good’. Glass is inert, infinitely recyclable, and current recycling methods, such as kerbside collection, are well understood and can produce a 90% collection rate without the costs of DRS.


The WSTA has been vocal in opposing DRS, and industry is committed to increasing recycling rates, meeting the costs of a circular economy and becoming more sustainable. We has consistently said DRS is not best way to improve. Significant strides have already been made by the wine and spirit industry, including efforts to ship in bulk and use lightweight glass.

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