SEPA urges drinks producers to ‘get ready’ for DRS

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has published guidance for drinks producers to ensure they are “ready” for when registration for Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) opens in 12 weeks’ time.

RWM Letsrecycle Live
The Irish government announced the opening of registration for producers and retailers (picture: Shutterstock)

All four UK nations have announced that they will introduce a DRS for beverage containers by 2025, with the Scottish scheme set to launch next August.

If businesses make or import drinks for sale to consumers in Scotland, they must comply with producer obligations under the new Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020, SEPA says, which include registering to be part of the scheme.

Producers and importers will be unable to sell their drinks to consumers in Scotland unless they register, SEPA says.

SEPA will regulate the scheme and is responsible for the producer registration service, which opens in January 2023.

Businesses can register directly with SEPA or through the scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland, the Scottish environmental regulator says.

SEPA’s guidance, published yesterday (4 October), aims to help producers understand if their drinks are covered by the scheme and the next steps they need to take, as well as to understand their obligations under the regulations.


Kath McDowall, SEPA’s unit manager for the DRS, said: “It is important businesses prepare for DRS now. We’re here to help and our latest guidance sets out what producers need to do to prepare for registration.

If you’re not registered by 1 March 2023, then you might not be able to sell your drinks in Scotland after August 2023

  • Kath McDowall, SEPA’s unit manager for the DRS

“This includes information on routes to register, a guide to help determine which drinks are part of the scheme and operational plan guidance.

“If you’re a drinks producer and you want to sell your products to consumers in Scotland, you need to be registered with SEPA to be part of the scheme.

“If you’re not registered by 1 March 2023, then you might not be able to sell your drinks in Scotland after August 2023, when the scheme goes live.”

SEPA says retailers, wholesalers and hospitality businesses needed to ensure any drinks they sell in Scotland came from a registered producer and that they charge the deposit on each drink.

They may also have to operate a return point or offer a takeback service, SEPA says, collecting empty containers for recycling and returning deposits to consumers.


In July, waste management company Biffa announced that it had secured a 10-year contract with Circularity Scotland to provide logistics, sorting and counting services for the Scottish DRS (see story).

Biffa is now revamping its plastics sorting plant in Grangemouth, Scotland, to ensure it can cope with the surge of material expected once Scotland’s DRS comes into force (see story).

A parliamentary question asked in June revealed Scottish Government had yet to receive any applications from organisations looking to operate voluntary return points when the DRS goes live (see story).

Related links
DRS guidance for what is in scope 
DRS guidance: Operational plan – guidance for producers 

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