Deposit return scheme to be delayed until 2026 amid further setbacks

The government’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is set to be delayed by at least another year as the already delayed October 2025 start date is deemed unachievable.

According to The Grocer, the conclusion was reached during meetings between representatives of all the UK governments and industry bodies aimed at salvaging the scheme.

Last week, supermarket bosses called for the government to go back to the drawing board with its plans for DRS, saying a “fundamental rethink” was needed.

“It’s become clear that October 2025 is a non-starter,” said one leading industry source involved in the talks who spoke to The Grocer.

“Even 2026 is a very big question mark for the industry.”

Supermarket bosses claimed earlier this month DRS will cost retailers approximately £1.8bn, ten times the amount that officials previously reported.

Under the scheme, a 20p charge will be applied to drinks containers, which consumers would be able to claim back when they return the bottles and cans.

However, the source claimed that DRS “is not dead in the water”.

They added: “There is still a desire there from the major companies and that is what is going to have to lead this forward.

“But there is no doubt ministers are going to have to think again about the timescale whatever happens.”

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The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has also appealed for the government to reconsider the timeframe, with its response highlighting the need for proper planning to allow the infrastructure for DRS to be put into place.

ACS CEO James Lowman told The Grocer: “We cannot risk rushing out half-baked policies that could end up harming retailers, consumers, the industry and ultimately the environment.

“The government is taking the right steps toward ensuring a more sustainable future, but it’s absolutely essential that significant changes and new infrastructure like that which will be needed under a deposit return scheme are given enough time and scrutiny to get the details right.”

Previously, DRS in Scotland was delayed until at least October 2025, after industry leaders warned Scottish ministers against making further progress without support from Westminster.



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