Interim chief of Scotland’s new deposit return scheme body promises ‘world class’ service

The interim director a new group announced to oversee Scotland’s long awaited deposit return scheme has hailed it as a “game-changer” in driving Scotland’s circular economy and green ambitions.

Donald McCalman said the new body – Circularity Scotland Limited – would deliver a world class scheme with a vision of making it “work for all”.

The new not for profit group, announced today, is made up of drinks producers, trade associations and retailers working alongside Zero Waste Scotland.

The Scottish Government confirmed that it had approved it as scheme administrator.

The deposit return scheme will require consumers to pay a 20p deposit when they buy a glass bottle, can or PET plastic container. The money is then reimbursed when the empty containers are returned, contributing to a circular economy.

Circularity Scotland say they will work with companies throughout the supply chain – from producers through to hospitality, wholesalers and retailers – to deliver a system that is expected to collect at least 90% of drinks containers across Scotland.

“This is a significant milestone in a scheme which will improve the quality and quantity of our recycling, contribute towards our net zero targets and significantly reduce litter.

Roseanna Cunninghjam, Environment & climate Change Secretary

Zero Waste Scotland research predicts that 34,000 fewer plastic bottles, cans and glasses will be littered every day with the introduction of a the scheme in Scotland. That could see £62 million a year could saved tackling the indirect impacts of litter.

Mr McCalman, interim director of Circularity Scotland, said: “The Deposit Return Scheme is a gamechanger for Scotland’s ambition to become a greener and cleaner country. It supports a circular economy and the Scottish Government’s ambitious plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

“The appointment of Circularity Scotland as a Deposit Return Scheme administrator is a milestone moment – it allows us to begin delivering a world-class DRS that works for everyone. We will work closely with companies and trade associations throughout the supply chain to develop and operate a DRS system that works for all.”

Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham hailed the appointment.

She said: “This is a significant milestone in a scheme which will improve the quality and quantity of our recycling, contribute towards our net zero targets and significantly reduce litter.

“I am grateful for the industry’s collective commitment to move ahead with the scheme, despite the pressures of COVID-19 over the past year and we look forward to working with them to make the deposit return scheme a success.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, added: “This is a huge milestone and a mark of the tremendous amount of work that has been done to prepare a practical and sustainable Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland.

“We’re extremely pleased that Circularity Scotland will be taking the scheme forward.  

“Scotland’s DRS will be an important part of our journey towards a more circular economy, challenging throwaway culture and contributing to the fight against climate change: reducing emissions by nearly 160,000 tonnes of CO2eq each year – the equivalent of taking 83,000 cars off the road.”

The Scottish Government first announced plans for a DRS in Scotland in 2017. Regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2020 paving the way for drinks producers and importers to nominate a scheme administrator.

Earlier, this month, the Scottish Government commissioned an independent gateway review to assess the impact of the pandemic on the go-live date for the scheme, which is currently scheduled for July 2022.

It is estimated that four million tonnes of CO2eq emissions will be cut over 25 years as a direct result.

Since Norway introduced a deposit return scheme in 1999, it is now recovering 98% of PET plastic bottles. The Governments and Assemblies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland intend to launch deposit and return schemes from 2023 onwards.


Producers will add the 20p fee to prices charged to wholesalers, who pass it to the retailer, who, in turn, pass it on to the eventual consumer. Consumers will be reimbursed by return point operators—which will include the majority of Scotland’s retailers and hospitality premises—when they bring back in-scope containers, either with physical money or credits.

The retailer, in turn, is reimbursed by Circularity Scotland, which collects and ratifies the returned material from the retailer. Circularity Scotland is then reimbursed by the producer, and the loop starts again.

The plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans collected by Circularity Scotland will be recycled and fed back into the production cycle for new bottles and cans. The scheme is projected to cut 4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over 25 years.

Circularity Scotland Members

Producers include: A.G. Barr plc, AB InBev UK Limited, Accolade Wines Limited, Asahi UK Ltd, Britvic Soft Drinks Limited, Coca-Cola European Partners Great Britain Limited, Danone Waters UK & Ireland, Heineken UK Limited, Highland Spring Ltd, Nestlé Waters UK, Refresco Beverages UK Limited, Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I, and Tennent Caledonian Breweries UK Limited.

Retail members include: Co-operative Group Limited, Lidl Great Britain Limited, Marks and Spencer plc, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited, Tesco Stores Limited, Aldi Scotland and Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc.

Retail and wholesale trade associations include: Association of Convenience Stores, National Federation of Retail Newsagents and Scottish Wholesale Association.

The British Beer and Pub Association whose members include: Keg Logistics, Admiral Taverns Ltd, Adnams, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, Arkell’s Brewery, Asahi UK Ltd, Black Sheep Brewery, Brakspear Pub Company, Budweiser Budvar UK, C&C Group PLC, Caledonian Hertaible Ltd, Cermons Brewing Ltd, Carlsberg UK, Daleside Brewery, Daniel Batham & Son Ltd, Daniel Thwaites PLC, Diageo PLC, Everards Brewery Ltd, Frederic Robinson Ltd, Fuller, Smith and Turner PLC, George Bateman & Son Ltd, Gray & Sons, Greene King, G1 Group, Hall & Woodhouse Ltd, Harvey & Son (Lewes) Ltd, Harviestoun Brewery, Heavitree Brewery PLC, Heineken UK, Heron & Brearley Ltd, Hogs Back Brewery Ltd, Holden’s Brewery Ltd, Hook Norton Brewery Co Ltd, Hydes Brewery, Innis & Gunn, J.W. Lees & Co, Joseph Holt Ltd, Laine’s Brewery, Liberation Group, Marston’s PLC, McMullen & Sons Ltd, Molson Coors, Hawthorne Leisure, Palmers, Punch, RW Randall Ltd, Rosemount Taverns, S. A. Brain & Co Ltd, Shepherd Neame Ltd, St Austell Brewery Co Ltd, T&R Theakston, Thomas Hardy Brewing & Packaging, Timothy Taylor’s & Co Ltd, Titanic Brewery, Trust Inns, Wadworth & Co Ltd, Wells & Co, Woodforde’s Brewery, and Youngs & Co’s Brewery.

The British Soft Drinks Association whose members include: AM Fresh, Aston Manor, Belvoir Fruit Farms, Clearly Drinks Ltd, Corrigan’s Original, Cracker Drinks Co, Encirc, Fentimans, Fruits of Jannah, Global Brands, Good Natured (Happy Monkey) Ltd, Holy Industries, innocent, Jolly’s Drinks, Kingsland Drinks, Kingsley Beverages UK Ltd, Nexba UK, Nichols plc, PepsiCo International Ltd, Princes Gate Spring Water Ltd, Princes Ltd, Purity Soft Drinks, Radnor Hills, Red Bull UK Ltd, Roxane UK, SHS Group Drinks Division, Sneak Energy, Stute Foods, Symrise, Tata Consumer Products, Tropicana UK Ltd, Vitamin Well, and The Wonderful Company.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association whose members include: Accolade Wines, Awin Barratt Siegel, Distil PLC, Harpalion Spirits Ltd, Keepr’s, One Gin, Renegade Urban Winery, Alpine Wines, Bancroft Wines, Jensen’s, California Wines, Digby Fine English, Fox & Fox Mayfield, and Gordon & Macphail.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation whose members include: Batley’s – Best One, Clydebank Co-op, Costcutter Supermarkets, David’s, Kitchen, EROS Retail, G101, Keystore, Lothian Stores, Motor Fuel Group, Nisa, PGMA, Scotfresh, United Wholesale Grocers and United Wholesale Scotland.


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