DRS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland set for 2025

The value of the deposit will be set by a yet-to-be appointed deposit management organisation

DRS plastic bottles soft drinks

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed the deposit return scheme (DRS) will be introduced across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in October 2025.

In its consultation response, published today, Defra outlined its agreed regulations, and set out what will be expected of independent retailers.

Although glass has controversially been set for inclusion in Scotland’s DRS, expected to go live in August, the materials within the scope of the scheme elsewhere will depend on which country stores are located in.

For England and Northern Ireland, PET bottles, steel and aluminium cans are included in the scheme, while in Wales glass is also included. In all countries, the scheme will include containers ranging in size from 50ml to 3 litres.

The value of the deposit will be set by a yet-to-be appointed deposit management organisation (DMO). The government made clear that the DMO will be “obligated to consider the strategic placement of return points, to ensure an accessible and comprehensive network of return points.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the government’s ambition to introduce a workable DRS for retailers, consumers and the wider industry. It is essential that the scheme is inter-operable across the UK, and we must learn the lessons from the introduction of the Scottish DRS to ensure that the scheme in England, Wales and NI is both effective and sustainable.

“The government’s timeline of 2025 is ambitious given the planned appointment of a DMO in 2024, but we are committed to working with the government, retailers and suppliers to introduce a scheme that works for everyone.”

Through DRS, consumers will pay an additional 20p when they purchase a drink in a single-use container. This is redeemed when they take the container back to a return point operator.

The Fed’s Jason Birks added: “As a federation that has always been supportive of DRS, we are looking forward to engaging with the scheme operators to ensure a successful outcome for our members, many of whose stores will be actively involved.

“It is important that independent retailers are included in discussions, as they are vital return point operators. The Fed will continue to monitor DRS as it progresses and will update its members accordingly.”

  • A full breakdown of what stores need to know from consultation response will be published in RN 27 January

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