HomeBussinessUK-wide DRS planned for October 2027 - The Spirits Business

UK-wide DRS planned for October 2027 – The Spirits Business

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The UK’s Department of environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) has confirmed that the deposit return scheme (DRS) will be delayed until October 2027.

DRS glass bottles
Governments across the UK are aiming to establish a nationwide DRS

Steve Barclay, Defra’s secretary of state, admitted last month that the controversial scheme was likely to be implemented in 2027, instead of October 2025.

Under the DRS, consumers would be offered cash or vouchers for returning empty drinks containers that will be recycled.

The UK government, Welsh government, Scottish government and Northern Ireland government have agreed to work on a ‘consistent policy framework’ to implement schemes with a UK-wide approach.

A Deposit Management Organisation (DMO) will be set up to run the DRS and will be responsible for securing funding, hiring staff and developing a delivery plan.

Under the new plan, the scheme will be rolled out from spring 2026 to autumn 2027. By October 2027, the governments hope the DRS will be fully operational across the UK.

The scheme includes drinks containers made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), steel, and aluminium cans.

Last summer, the Scottish government delayed the scheme until October 2025 ‘at the earliest’, after it was ‘sabotaged’ by the UK government, which requested that glass be excluded in line with proposals for a DRS in England and Northern Ireland.

Wales’ government is currently proposing to include glass in its deposit return scheme.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said the decision to delay the scheme “underscores the necessity for further consultation on its nuances, particularly concerning its impact on businesses”.

“Alignment across the UK is crucial, with consistent rules and materials adopted simultaneously,” he noted. “The disparity in materials, exemplified by Wales’ inclusion of glass, presents a significant challenge, penalising small businesses and potentially impacting, disrupting or placing businesses at a trading disadvantage.”

“This discrepancy not only increases costs but also limits the choice and availability of independent products, detrimentally affecting both businesses and consumers alike.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, also called the government’s move to exclude hospitality venues from being required to act as a collection point a “significant victory”.

“This was a key ask of UKHospitality and such an approach will avoid unnecessary complexity and cost for businesses,” she said.

Nicholls was also pleased that the schemes will focus on “maximum alignment and interoperability across the UK”.

“We support the delay until 2027 and it is recognition of the significant amount of work that still needs to take place to make these schemes work,” she added.

“Hospitality already has one of the best recycling records in the economy and we can do even more, so I hope all governments across the UK will continue to work with us to make these schemes work for businesses, consumers and all of our sustainability objectives.”

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