DRS delay will help – but separate schemes won’t

England, Wales and Northern Ireland will not introduce the controversial deposit return scheme until at least October 2025, says the UK government

A long-awaited consultation response covering England and Northern Ireland was published on 20 January 2023, revealing that the DRS would only go ahead if talks within the industry prove it is ‘feasible’. The scheme will go live in Scotland on 16 August 2023, as planned.

The delay of more than two years has been met with concern from the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.

“Wholesalers have serious concerns over the differences in the schemes being proposed for England and Northern Ireland to those for Wales and Scotland,” said James Bielby, Chief Executive, FWD.

“This has the potential to create trading borders within the UK and could cause confusion, increase cost, and damage the profitability of businesses working across the borders.

“We have consistently called for a single UK-wide DRS scheme and there’s little in today’s announcement to suggest the UK government has fully understood the implications of multiple solutions. We are in ongoing contact with Defra and will continue to make the case for alignment.

“Delaying implementation to late 2025 will help – but it’s not the answer to the very complex questions raised by today’s announcement.”

The DRS in England and Northern Ireland will cover cans and PET drinks containers but exclude glass while DRS in Wales and Scotland will include glass.

Deposit Return Scheme FWD Government James Bielby