UK deposit return scheme could be delayed until 2026 in fresh blow


The UK deposit return scheme (DRS), which was anticipated to begin October 2025 start datecould be pushed back yet further to 2026.

The scheme has previously been delayed due to the cost of living crisis.

Meetings between representatives and industry bodies last week indicated that the current plan was unachievable, The Grocer heard with a source telling the publication that “even 2026 is becoming a very big question mark for the industry”.

“Unless we have that and a clear 18-month run it’s going to be impossible to get DRS off the ground. The banks wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole for a start,” the source continued.

Despite this the source added that the DRS said the scheme was not “dead in the water”.

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The scheme will see a 20p charge applied to drinks containers which consumers would be be able to claim back when they return the bottles and cans.

However, retailers have called the scheme out for being too costly with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief saying that the scheme is “costly complicated and cannot deliver the step change in recycling needed to justify it”

Alternatives such as the use of Polytag technology have also been cited as a solution by some in the sector.

The CEO of the Association of Convenience Stores, which previously appealed for the government to reconsider its timeline, James Lowman also told The Grocer:

“We cannot risk rushing out half-baked policies that could end up harming retailers, consumers, the industry and ultimately the environment.”

“The government is taking the right steps toward ensuring a more sustainable future, but it’s absolutely essential that significant changes and new infrastructure like that which will be needed under a deposit return scheme are given enough time and scrutiny to get the details right.”

Other countries have successfully implemented similar schemes, including Germany which became the first major EU state to introduce bottle return schemes with its Einwegpfand scheme way back in 2002.


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