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Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS): How 4PACK can help the drinks industry


As the UK continues to push for more sustainable packaging materials and the development of new packaging solutions that have environmental impact considerations in mind, Scotland is leading the way with its DRS, which impacts all drinks producers selling in Scotland. The scheme is set to go live for consumers on 16th August 2023, though elements of the regulations are due to come into force before then.

The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for bottles and cans is set to give drinks producers (both soft and alcoholic drinks) a key role in Scotland’s response to climate change – producers will now be legally responsible for the collection and management of drinks containers in preparation for recycling. This scheme covers all PET, glass and can containers from 50ml to 3 litres in size.

The exclusion of HDPE plastic means that very few dairy items will fall into the scheme however if the dairy products are contained in PET, glass bottles and cans then they will need to be included.  DRS deposits only apply to single use containers, so reusable glass milk bottle will not be included.

Consumers will be charged an additional deposit fee when they purchase a drink in a single-use container, which is redeemed when the consumer returns the empty drink container to a designated return point.


How can 4PACK help you get ready for these changes?

SEPA will be the enforcement authority and will work with producers to support compliance.  Producers have obligations that must be met and it will be an offence to:

  • Sell in-scope container product in Scotland without being registered to SEPA and putting those products on the market for consumption in Scotland
  • Fail to fulfil producer obligations, provide SEPA with incorrect information or make SEPA aware of a material change in circumstances
  • The above also applies if a scheme administrator has been appointed and they fail to fulfil the obligations of the producer that they represent.  

Having control of your packaging material master data (specs) is a critical part of governing compliance and providing accurate data to SEPA in an efficient way. 4Pack centralises and controls packaging data which enables teams to utilise the data for approval, reporting and identifying opportunities to improve ‘green credentials’ by making informed changes. Your packaging suppliers can directly input the specification information into 4Pack and then specs can be linked to SKUs. Should a decision be made to change a packaging spec e.g., reduce weight, then the teams will immediately see the SKUs that will be impacted by that change and adjust accordingly.


What is the impact on Label and Artwork management process?

Either new labelling will need to be created, or exisiting labelling will need to be updated to ensure clear consumer communication and anti-fraud measures are incorporated on the packaging.  This will require mass change management and an efficient way of updating artwork to incorporate DRS information as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will begin registering drinks producers from 1st January 2023.

At 4PACK we enable drinks producers the flexibility needed for projects of this scale, with a supplier portal for third-party inclusion. Packaging artwork and change requests are managed and centralised on one system, meaning a huge reduction in manual steps, duplication, and data being stored on local drives – all of which help make the process a seamless, smooth transition, drives a right first-time way of working and significantly reduces the risk of error.

Our software offers the level of detailed reporting that you need to stay on top of changes to ensure your artwork is compliant. Be DRS ready, by moving a digital way of working and handle mass content and artwork changes with ease.

We’re here to take the stress and complication out of your artwork process, so get in touch today to find out more and see how we can help you get ready for the upcoming DRS changes.

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