Defra ‘remains committed’ to DRS amid reports of delay to 2028

Defra has said it “remains committed” to the deposit return scheme (DRS) following reports in the national media of a delay, which, if true, would see the scheme delayed until 2028.

The I  newspaper claimed that ministers had put a halt to the DRS, due for October 2025, instead pushing the implementation “until 2028”, quoting many major producers who were frustrated.

Defra was facing mounting calls from producers last year to push back the scheme, with the British Retail Consortium warning that it will cost £1.8 billion a year (see letsrecycle.com story).

In response to the rumours, Defra told letsrecycle.com that it is “pushing ahead” with the programme, where it will “continue to engage with businesses closely” as it introduces DRS.

However, it did not give a clear answer as to whether the DRS has actually been pushed back.


The Defra statement said: “We are pushing ahead with our programme of reforms to reduce waste and improve our use of resources and remain committed to our goal of eliminating avoidable waste by 2050.

“It’s essential that we work closely with industry to make sure our reforms will be a success and we will continue to engage with businesses closely as we proceed with introducing the deposit return scheme.”

Defra added that “close collaboration with industry will be key” to ensuring the deposit return scheme is successfully rolled out.

The department also said it is “working closely with the devolved administrations” to ensure the interoperability of schemes so that “no barriers to trade are introduced and agree a practical”.


When Defra first consulted on the DRS for England in the Resources and Waste Strategy in 2018, this was pencilled in for 2023.

However, this was delayed a number of times and most recently the department outlined an October 2025 deadline last year (see letsrecycle.com story).

Rolling out a DRS has proved difficult across the UK, with Scotland eager to be the first in the UK to roll out a system was repeatedly hit by delays, until it announced last year it was moving in line with the rest of the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).


Producers have been publicly pressuring for the scheme to be rolled out as well.

Not long after the survey warned of a £1.8 billion cost of the DRS, leading producers signed an open letter to the prime minister, co-signed by notable drink producers, as well as trade associations and environmental campaign groups, including Coca-Cola, the Food and Drink Federation and Surfers Against Sewage.

The letter pushed for the implementation of DRS, which it stated would provide infrastructure to reach net-zero by 2050, “at no cost to the taxpayer”.

Forty-one other countries have already launched a deposit return scheme, with Ireland doing so last month, having initially announced it in 2022.

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