Scottish wholesalers will now have until at least October 2025 to prepare for the start of the nation’s deposit return scheme (DRS), following another delay.
In a ministerial statement, given on 7 June circular economy minister Lorna Slater said she has been left with “no other option” but to delay the Scottish DRS. This follows what the minister called “an even bigger act of sabotage” when the UK government effectively banned Scotland from including glass in its scheme on 27 May.
The latest delay means there will likely be one DRS scheme covering the entirety of the UK, which The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has welcomed, with Mo Razzaq, the organisation’s national deputy vice president explaining: “It makes sense for the Scottish government to decide now to launch at the same time as the rest of the UK, because we are far from confident the deeply flawed Scottish scheme will be ready by its most recent launch date of March 2024. Businesses are angry and seriously short-changed because of the continuing confusion.
“We understand the desire to progress plans combating litter and waste of the earth’s resources but with now only one year between launch in Scotland and launch in the rest of the UK, the case is far from compelling.
Meanwhile, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “It has become increasingly clear that a workable DRS system, interoperable with future schemes in the rest of the UK, cannot be put in place by March 2024. This is disappointing, but it is the right decision to work towards the launch of interoperable schemes across the UK in October 2025.
“It is absolutely essential that the governments of the UK work together to introduce a scheme that works for everyone, is effective at increasing recycling rates, and does not impose unnecessary conditions on the retailers that will be delivering the scheme on
David Harris, Circularity Scotland chief executive, added: “This is clearly a disappointing outcome, which will have a significant impact on investment in Scotland. We have made it clear that industry was prepared for the Deposit Return Scheme to go live in March 2024, and that a scheme without glass is both economically viable and is an opportunity for Scotland to provide a platform for a UK-wide DRS. Regrettably, further delaying the introduction of DRS will hinder Scotland’s progress towards net zero and mean that billions of drinks containers continue to end up as waste.