Deposit return scheme set for October 2027


The UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have confirmed that Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) will be launched across the UK in October 2027.

Following several back and forths regarding the scheme's introduction, it has now been confirmed that there will be three separate schemes from 2027: one covering England and Northern Ireland, and others in each of Scotland and Wales.

Under a DRS, when a person buys a drink they are charged a small refundable deposit. They can then claim back the levy by returning the empty container to a designated point.

The update on 25 April confirmed that hospitality venues will no longer be required to act as a return point, but can voluntarily host a return point should they choose to do so. This, UKHospitality says, is a significant victory for the sector due to the cost and complexity involved.

"I’m pleased that all governments across the UK have listened to the concerns of UKHospitality and will be pursuing schemes that ensure maximum alignment and interoperability across the UK," says Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality. "The collaboration between governments to reach this point has been positive to see and should act as a blueprint of how to work together on other common areas of concern.

"Hospitality already has one of the best recycling records in the economy and we can do even more, so I hope all governments across the UK will continue to work with us to make these schemes work for businesses, consumers and all of our sustainability objectives."

A matter of glass

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland and the UK government have agreed that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans will be included in their DRS, and that glass drink containers will be excluded when the scheme launches. The Scottish government has said it will do the same.

However, the Welsh government is taking a different approach, as it intends to include glass when their scheme launches. 

"We’ve argued consistently for alignment for the DRS and we’re pleased that Welsh government has listened to us and reacted positively," says David Chapman, executive director of UKHospitality Cymru. "It remains the case that Wales will be an outlier in some aspects, but the inclusion of glass is less of a concern now that hospitality venues are not required to act as return points. However, it would still be preferable to have a UK-wide consensus on the scope of materials."

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