THE SCOTTISH Government has insisted they are still on target to launch their deposit return scheme next year, despite a lack of interest from organisations looking to operate voluntary return points. 

The scheme, which aims to cut plastic waste, boost recycling and reduce littering by introducing a deposit on all bottles and cans, was supposed to be up and running this month.

However, it was pushed back after retailers and drinks companies called for more time. 

Everyone buying a drink will pay a 20p deposit on the glass, metal or plastic container it comes in, for all sizes between 50ml and three litres. 

This deposit is then refunded when they return the empty container to any one of 35,000 collection points – this could be over the counter to any retailer or through a reverse vending machine.

In a recent analysis for the government, Zero Waste Scotland predicted that alongside retailers there would be 500 voluntary return points. 

It was presumed that community groups or property owners managing facilities, such as shopping centres, hospitals, food courts and transport hubs which house multiple retailers or hospitality businesses would sign up for this.

However, in an answer to a parliamentary question from Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, Lorna Slater, the Minister for the Ciruclar Economy, said there had been no applications to set up such points. 


“This embarrassing return for the Scottish government shows just how much work it still has to do,” Mr Golden told the Times.

“This is meant to be a flagship scheme which doesn’t just help the environment, but motivates and incentivises businesses too.

“Instead it has turned them off. If the SNP-Green government doesn’t get its act together, this initiative will have failed before it is even off the ground.”

Mr Golden added: “The theory behind the deposit return scheme is correct and, so long as it is done in partnership with people and businesses, it could be an all-round success. But in the nationalists’ hands, it risks being a costly disaster.” 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it was still early days and they expected more volunteers to come forward closer to the launch date.

They said: “Scotland’s deposit return scheme will go live on 16 August 2023 and is an important step towards creating a more circular economy.

"The scheme will ultimately recycle billions of bottles and cans every year, helping to cut litter, prevent waste and reduce emissions.

“Consumers will be able to return their empty bottles and cans to any retailer that sells drinks to take away. With thousands of retail return points, it will be as easy to return your empty bottle or can as it was to buy it in the first place.

“We would not anticipate a significant volume of applications this far out from the scheme going live.

"However, we expect to see a much greater level of interest as we draw closer and will be engaging with industry and local authorities to encourage them to apply.”