Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland

The Scottish Government has published its draft regulations to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland by 2021. This will mean that consumers will be charged a 20p deposit for each can, glass and plastic bottle they purchase in Scotland and be able to reclaim this deposit by returning the container.

As currently designed it will have implications for SIBA members selling independent craft beer in Scotland including those based outside of Scotland. Further information on how to prepare can be found on the Zero Waste Scotland website.

It proposes that producers will have to register and pay a registration fee annually to the Scottish Government (through a scheme administrator) and a producer fee per container as well as charging a deposit of 20p. Breweries may require separate labels for beer sold in Scotland, along with separate barcodes and SKUs.

We have been making representations on your behalf at the highest level of the Scottish Government and you can see the letter that our Chief Executive James Calder has recently sent to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Roseanna Cunningham MSP here. James Calder has also written an article outlining SIBA’s concerns and SIBA’s Scottish members sent an open letter to the Scottish Government.

There are particular concerns that the proposals will:

– Impose unsustainable costs threatening the future of breweries. As small businesses breweries will struggle to cover registration and producer fees, new labelling requirements and the impact of accepting returned containers.

– Reduce the choice and availability of independent craft beer in Scotland. Global brands can more easily adapt to costs and breweries in the rest of the UK will stop selling in Scotland reducing consumer choice.

– Create more uncertainty for businesses as we do not know if it will be compatible with the scheme proposed for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Small brewers would like the scheme to have:

– Proportionate costs for small producers: Registration and producer fees, along with labelling, should take account of size of producer, including de-minimis thresholds for small brewers based on the national Small Breweries’ Relief Scheme.

– Safeguards for small producers: The Scheme Administrator should be required to demonstrate to the Scottish Government how it will give due regard to the requirements of small breweries to stop it being dominated by global producers.

– Fair implementation period: Give small producers enough time to plan ahead and delay implementation so there can be one scheme for the whole of the UK.

– Alternatives to takeback services: Small online retailers should not have to provide a takeback service that few customers will use. Instead they should be able to refer them to their local return point.

What I can do?

Scottish members: If you are a brewer in Scotland, you can write to your MSP or MP sharing your concerns. We have prepared a sample letter that you can use below (in word format). Please let know if you write and get a reply.

letter to MSPs (word format)

Find out who your MSP is at:

Find out who your MP is at:

Non-Scottish members: If you are a brewer who sells or is considering selling beer to Scotland (including through wholesalers) you will be impacted. You can use this sample letter below (in word format) to write to the Cabinet Secretary sharing your concerns. Please let know if you write and get a reply.

Sample letter to Roseanna Cunningham MSP (word format)

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.