Deposit Return Scheme

Will your business be affected by Deposit Return System requirements? Are you prepared?

Reverse Vending

The introduction of Deposit Return Schemes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should help to prevent littering of drinks containers. Disposable containers (or parts of them) are among the items most commonly found on UK beaches, in hedges, parks, verges, sewers and other waterways.


How Valpak can help

Valpak is a Reconomy Group company. The Reconomy Group is an innovative, tech-led provider of circular economy-focused services, with the purpose of creating a truly sustainable world by conserving finite resources.

EcoVend is Reconomy’s range of reverse vending machines that can fulfil a variety of applications as part of a circular economy strategy and national Deposit Return Schemes.


A Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), also known as a deposit refund system, applies a surcharge to a product when it is purchased. A rebate is given to the consumer if that product is returned. In this instance, a refund will be given when a reusable drinks container is returned for recycling.

It is hoped that the introduction of a DRS will help to reduce littering by offering consumers a financial incentive to recycle drinks containers at a specified location for recycling. It is hoped deposit return systems can help raise the recycling of single-use drinks containers in the UK to rates in excess of 90%, as seen in European nations where they are well established.

These systems are designed to encourage behaviour change to stop littering at source and capture valuable resources.

The UK’s Deposit Return Schemes will affect:

  • UK based beverage brand owners
  • beverage container fillers
  • importers of beverage containers owned by a non-UK brand
  • retailers of single-use beverage containers

If your business falls into one or more of the above categories it will be required to participate in the DRS. This will involve paying a producer fee to cover the costs of setting up and operating the DRS (excluding any material revenues and unredeemed deposits) and handling fees to cover the costs of those operating return points for DRS containers.

Obligated producers will be required to apply a deposit to beverage containers when they are sold to distributors from the day the schemes go live.

We are developing our existing data systems to help affected producers with DRS reporting. Contact us to find out more.

Retailers that sell beverages will have to host a DRS return point to collect used containers from consumers. They will be required to charge the consumer the deposit value when they sell drinks, inform them of how the deposit can be redeemed and refund deposits to consumers when they present valid containers for recycling.

Two examples of return methods are the installation of an automated reverse vending machine (RVM) (a machine which accepts the beverage container and returns the deposit to the customer) or manual collections, for example over the counter. The retailer can decide which type of return location they provide.

E-commerce retailers of DRS products will have to provide a takeback service from the site of delivery to consumers.

Retailers would receive a handling fee from the DRS administrator for each valid container collected. This fee is intended to cover costs of hosting a return point e.g. for space lost, staff resource costs etc.

It is important to note that retailers, including online retailers, which are also brand-owners will be obligated as producers for their own-brand products.

The introduction of Deposit Return Schemes is only one aspect of legislation proposed under the packaging reform. Visit our Plastic Packaging Tax and Extended Producer Responsibility pages for further information.

Make an Enquiry

To find out more about how we can help your business to prepare for the introduction of a Deposit Return System, come to one of our free events, contact one of our experts on 03450 682 572 or complete our enquiry form.