Scotland has delayed the implementation of its Deposit Return Scheme until July 2022 due to fears over the impact of the coronavirus.

drs reverse vending machine plastic bottle return

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the ‘go live’ date would be delayed from April 2021 to the following year, as the final DRS regulations were published on Monday.

The scheme will include plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), aluminium and steel cans, and glass bottles.

Under the scheme, a 20p deposit is applied each time one of those single-use drinks containers is sold in Scotland.

Retailers can choose to install reverse vending machines (RVMs) to collect empty containers, or collect the containers manually over the counter. Non-retail spaces will also be able to act as return locations.

Retailers may apply for exemption from 1 January 2021, which “will afford retailers sufficient time to seek any exemptions prior to the scheme becoming fully operational”, the regulations state.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Our Deposit Return Scheme will be the first national scheme of its type operating in the UK. By including a wide range of materials, including glass, and setting a deposit of 20p, we are giving the people of Scotland a clear and straightforward way to do their bit for the environment.

“Having listened to the views of stakeholders, I have agreed to extend the ‘go-live’ date from April 2021 to July 2022. This will give businesses more time to prepare their premises for the scheme and crucially, provides flexibility in the immediate term as the whole country prepares to deal with COVID-19 – the impact of which continues to be closely monitored.

“One very important way of achieving our climate targets is in tackling throw-away culture and building a circular economy where our resources are kept in use for as long as possible, and our Deposit Return Scheme is just one part of this.”

In England, powers to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme and set new charges for single-use plastic items were included in the Environment Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 30 January.