Scottish Deposit Return Scheme | How 4Pack Can Help

Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS): How 4PACK can help the drinks industry avoid significant packaging and artwork management pain.

The Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is set to go live for consumers on 16th August 2023, with registrations starting from 1st January 2023.

The scheme is predicted to expand across the home nations (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) by the end of 2024.

The success of DRS is highly likely to trigger this type of initiative to be adopted by other countries worldwide and, while it helps to drive the sustainability agenda, it will create headaches for beverage businesses that use manual methods of managing artwork change and packaging specification management.

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, although if the dairy products are contained in PET, glass bottles and cans, then they will need to be included. DRS only applies to single use containers, so reusable glass milk bottles 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?

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will be the enforcement authority and will work with producers to support compliance. Beverage producers and distributors 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 enables you to be compliant with SEPA by centralising and controlling 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. reducing the weight of the packaging), then the teams will immediately see the SKUs that will be impacted by that change and can adjust accordingly.

What impact does the DRS have on the label and artwork management process?

Either new labelling will need to be created, or existing 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 (non-manual) way of updating artwork to incorporate DRS information as SEPA will begin registering drinks producers from 1st January 2023.

At 4PACK we enable drinks producers the flexibility needed for projects of this scale, including a supplier portal for supply chain partners. Packaging artwork and change requests are managed and centralised on one globally-accessible online system, meaning elimination of manual steps, duplication, and data being stored on local drives. This all helps to make the process a seamless and smooth transition, drives a right first-time way of working, and significantly reduces the risk of error.

Our Gartner-recognised software offers the level of detailed reporting that you need to stay on top of changes to ensure that your artwork is compliant. You can be DRS-ready by transforming to a digital way of working that easily enables you to handle mass content and artwork changes.

Next steps to be ready for DRS in 2023 and onwards

If your beverage products are sold in Scotland then registration with SEPA starts from 1st January 2023 and then your beverage packaging will need to include consumer information about DRS.

Without SEPA registration and updated packaging it will be illegal to sell most beverage products in Scotland.

If your packaging management process is largely manual then please do have a conversation with us by getting in touch or reaching out to our expert, Helen Poole, via LinkedIn.

Thinking beyond DRS compliance

Packaging and artwork regulations and directives are only going to increase in all parts of the world.

Whether it’s the upcoming DRS, future regulations, legislation changes, or reporting demands from your clients, an accurate auditable single source of truth of all packaging data is essential, plus also enables you to instantly produce reports at any time.

The powerful 4Pack solution is configured to capture your packaging specifications and associated data and assets to align with mandatory legal, as well as packaging waste reporting (for you and your clients).


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

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