Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS), one of the first groups to campaign for the national recycling scheme, said it was concerned it could now be scrapped altogether after Lorna Slater announced a further delay.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Minister for Circular Economy said the DRS was now going live at the same time as programs in the rest of the UK. It is the fourth delay and fifth start date for Scotland’s troubled venture.
CONTINUE READING: The deposit return system will not be postponed until October 2025 at the earliest
dr APRS’ Kat Jones said the UK government’s own documents show its October 2025 date was “tentative at best, describing it as ‘a far-reaching target date’ and that feasibility is still being assessed.”
“This results in the return of the deposit being suspended indefinitely and as a result we will continue to see many cans and bottles lying around across Scotland for years to come,” she said.
The delay was overwhelmingly welcomed by industry, which has long called for the DRS to be rolled out across the UK.
The Federation of Small Businesses said the announcement was the “final acknowledgment that Scotland’s deposit return scheme has met its inevitable demise”.
Chairman Andrew McRae said: “The delay before a nationwide scheme takes shape will provide some much-needed breathing space for small producers and retailers who have struggled for months with the impact of DRS on their operations.”
The Night Time Industry Association said the proposed scheme was “simply not workable and both the Scottish and UK Governments must now take this opportunity to review the fundamental failings and challenges that have seriously disadvantaged Scotland’s small businesses.”
However, Circularity Scotland (CSL), the industry body that oversees the DRS, warned that the “disappointing result” would “have a significant impact on investment in Scotland”.
They insisted it could have gone live as planned next March.
CONTINUE READING: Timeline: how the standoff in the Scottish deposit return system unfolded
In what was at times a heated debate in Holyrood, Ms Slater told MSPs that earlier UK Government intervention had left the Scottish Government “no choice but to delay the introduction of Scottish DRS until October 2025 at the earliest”. Month.
The DRS stipulates that each single-use item will be subject to a 20p levy, which is then refunded when the empty container is returned to the retailer.
Earlier this month, the UK Government clarified that the Scottish Government would only get the needed exemption from UK Internal Market Act if it made a number of substantive changes.
As well as removing the glass, they also called for ministers in Edinburgh to agree to standardizing deposit charging and labeling with the other UK systems.
Ms Slater said the lack of details on the terms set by Whitehall, including not knowing how much the bail fee would be, meant the deal could not go ahead as planned.
The Minister told MSPs: “While Circularity Scotland were optimistic that the program could be implemented without glass, the overwhelming feedback from producers, retailers and caterers is that they are not preparing for a glass-free launch due to the changes required by the UK Government in March.” There is no certainty as to what these changes would look like.
“And since the deployment of DRS is an industry-led project, these views are critical. Today the First Minister and I have heard that the industry again recognizes the tremendous amount of work that their body Circularity Scotland has done on their behalf and appreciates this.” There is a case for maintaining a delivery vehicle for the forthcoming DRS.
Ms Slater continued: “I told Parliament yesterday that our plan could not go ahead as planned. The British government’s refusal to back down on glass alone makes that clear.”
“Today it is clear that we have no choice but to delay the introduction of Scotland’s DRS to no earlier than October 2025, based on the UK Government’s current stated targets.”
Ms Slater insisted Scotland “will have a deposit return system”.
“It will come later than necessary. It will be more limited than it should be,” she added.
“More limited than Parliament decided. More limited than I would like, that’s what other devolved nations and even the Tories wanted in the last election.
“And those delays and dilutions are clearly in the hands of the UK Government, which unfortunately so far has seemed more intent on sabotaging this Parliament than protecting our environment.”
In response to the statement, Scottish Minister Alister Jack said it was welcome that the Scottish program would now start at the same time as programs in the rest of the UK.
“Deposit return schemes need to be consistent across the UK to provide a simple and effective system for businesses and consumers.
“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government and the other decentralized administrations on a UK deposit return solution.
“The UK Government remains steadfast in its commitment to improving the environment while safeguarding the UK’s internal market.”
David Harris, CEO of CSL said: “This is clearly a disappointing result which will have a significant impact on investment in Scotland.
“We have made it clear that the industry is prepared for the deposit return scheme to come into force in March 2024 and that a glass-less scheme is both commercially viable and represents an opportunity for Scotland to provide a platform for a UK DRS .”
“Unfortunately, further delay in the introduction of DRS will hamper Scotland’s progress towards net zero and will result in billions of beverage containers continuing to end up in landfill.”
CONTINUE READING: ANALYSIS: Exposing the British government’s bluff has failed spectacularly
In Parliament, Scottish Conservative MP Maurice Golden said the scheme “failed long before the UK government ever intervened”.
He added: “Today’s statement reflects the key concern for businesses to have one system that works across the UK. I think we could have saved a lot of time and energy if the SNP and the Greens had listened to these companies from the start.” Place.
“Nevertheless, this is an attempt to salvage something from the rubble of a disastrous project. Just a few days ago, the Minister and First Minister were ruthlessly scaremongering, threatening to scrap the project unless glass were included.”
“They tried the old nationalist trick of squabbling with the UK government but it backfired.
“They have been accused of misrepresenting one of Scotland’s leading drinks producers, namely Circularity Scotland and logistics partner Biffa. Both confirmed that the program can be implemented without glass.”
Ms Slater indicated that Mr Golden did not understand the situation: “We will look forward to the Scottish deposit return scheme as I have outlined in October 2025, which is the earliest possible date that the UK Government is committed to implementing.” to plan.
“The main conditions imposed on the system by the application of the Internal Market Act have put us in an impossible position.
“So if we’re ahead of the UK, we need to require companies to comply with regulations that we haven’t seen before.”
Labor Party’s Sarah Boyack said Scotland was “paying the price of two bad governments, both of which seem more interested in a constitutional struggle”.
Her colleague behind the bench, Mercedes Villalba, said Ms Slater “needed to be honest with the public and take some responsibility for the fact that the SNP and the First Secretary themselves sabotaged that plan by repeatedly talking it down during their bitter leadership contest.” .”
The government’s position was supported by SNP members, who said the conditions imposed on the DRS were an attack on decentralization.
Clare Haughey, MSP for Rutherglen, said: “Scotland has restored its parliament to give that country some degree of self-government and Westminster has blocked Scotland at every turn on gender issues and now on environmental issues too.”
“The UK government is ridiculing decentralization by trying to erode the powers of our Parliament, and the Scottish Tories are happy to go along with it.”