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Deposit return scheme ‘will go ahead in August’ despite widespread concerns from business community

Scotland’s bottle return scheme will go ahead in August despite the concerns of business and producers, the circular economy minister has said.

 

Lorna Slater also encouraged businesses to sign up to the initiative before the end of the month.

 

The scheme is designed to boost recycling via a 20p deposit on single-use drinks bottles and cans.

But industry critics fear it will disrupt trade, raise prices and reduce choice.

Producers have until 28 February to register for the scheme ahead of its launch on 16 August.

 

Asked if it would launch as planned despite all the warnings and criticism, Ms Slater told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “Absolutely. It is all systems go for Scotland’s deposit return scheme.”

Ms Slater said the scheme had already been delayed to give companies more time to recover from the pandemic.

Ms Slater also defended the concept of the “really exciting scheme” and said it shifted responsibility for litter from the taxpayer to the producers.

 

Scottish Chambers of Commerce sent a letter to Minister Slater on the 30th of January to outline concerns and priorities for the business community on the deposit return scheme. At the time of writing (14th February), SCC have yet to receive a response from Minister Slater.

 

What is Scottish Chambers of Commerce calling for:

  • A delay to the implementation of the scheme to January 2025, to align with the rest of the UK. This would allow more time for businesses to prepare, allow issues with the scheme to be ironed out and ensure that Scottish businesses aren’t competitively disadvantaged compared to firms in the rest of the UK.

 

  • Undertake further consultation with sectors affected to ensure that the scheme is workable for both businesses and consumers as well as being cost effective for business.

 

  • Rework the scheme so that it supports SMEs with the costs and resources that they would require to manually handle returns and source empties, as well as address safety concerns around potential breakages.

 

  • With an implementation date of 2025 in mind and once necessary changes have been made to the scheme: undergo a focused and targeted programme of engagement with stakeholders to ensure business readiness.

 

  • Reconsider the inclusion of glass in the DRS. The UK Scheme will not contain glass and the Scottish Retail Consortium has estimated that including glass in the DRS will add £50m per year to businesses’ operational costs. In the previous parliament, British Glass highlighted research that including glass in the DRS will disrupt existing recycling systems and will act against Scotland achieving its environmental ambitions.
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