Deposit return scheme should be delayed to September 2023, MSPs told

The Scottish Government’s delayed deposit return scheme (DRS) should be pushed back to September 2023, a food and drink body has said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed in 2017 that Scotland was to set up the initiative. This will see shoppers pay 20p for drinks in cans and bottles, with the money returned to them when they recycle the empty containers.

But the scheme has been hit with delays, with government minister Lorna Slater failing to commit to the planned July 2022 start date when questioned by MSPs instead saying she wanted it up and running “as quickly as practically possible”.

On DRS, it can’t be delivered in parts, it’s got to be the whole and our best estimate of the right time to go on DRS is September 2023

Jim Fox

A new start date has not yet been announced.

Jim Fox, the associate director of public affairs at the Food and Drink Federation Scotland, said some in the industry were not yet prepared for the scheme to come into force.

“I know that the minister is considering a delay in that and we hope that she does delay,” he said before the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee.

“There are some parts of the industry that are ready to go and some parts that are not ready to go.

“On DRS, it can’t be delivered in parts, it’s got to be the whole and our best estimate of the right time to go on DRS is September 2023.”

Mr Fox was also asked for his body’s view on the ban on some single use plastics such as cutlery, plates and straws which is due to come into force in June.

“I don’t think there will be very much impact at all,” he said.

“For Scottish businesses, this has been trailed for a long time, I think most businesses that pay attention to these matters will already be well on their way to ridding themselves of any of the items that you’re regulating.”

He added: “It’s already enforced in England it’s already enforced in Europe – we don’t see a problem.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government reiterated its commitment to implementing the scheme.

“Scotland’s scheme will be among the most environmentally ambitious and accessible in Europe, including tens of thousands of return points for plastic, metal and glass containers, as well as pick-ups for online deliveries,” he said.

“Industry has made progress, including the establishment of a scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland.

“This has been done in trying circumstances, with those sectors responsible for delivering the scheme facing unprecedented disruption as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

“That is why we commissioned an independent review of progress and readiness for the go-live date.

“We are committed to the scheme being operational as soon as is practicably possible.

“We are working hard with Circularity Scotland and wider industry, including retailers, to determine a final timescale and clear milestones for delivery, and will announce that schedule to Parliament in due course.”


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