Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Beer and Pub Association and UKHospitality Scotland seek a delay in the start of the Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.
The three organisations have jointly written to the new Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, requesting a meeting to discuss the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland stating:-
As you will be aware, our sector has been one of the most heavily impacted by the pandemic and restrictions and will require the support of Government to rebuild during the recovery phase. The sector is key to the post-pandemic recovery economically, but crucially also in breathing life back into Scottish communities – enabling people to come together again after the most challenging period most of us will ever have faced.
There are a number of issues which we would like to discuss with yourself, however in the first instance and most pressing is the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland. As a sector, we are 100% committed to the net zero ambitions of the Scottish Government and already playing our part in this. We support the introduction of a DRS, however, believe that this must be done in a way that takes the implications for business into consideration.
We are therefore asking for a delay to the start of the scheme, which we believe will ensure that when it is introduced the scheme will be a success. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a lost year for our sector, and there has been no time for members to prepare for the introduction of DRS. Instead, our members have been, and continue to be focused on business survival.
The next 12 months for industry will, we hope, be all about the recovery from the pandemic. Although businesses also need to contend with the impact of EU Exit which is beginning to be felt by our sector and supply chain. It is our strong belief that the introduction of the scheme should be delayed until the impact from the pandemic is clear and the recovery is well underway.
Furthermore, we believe that the regulations should be amended to ensure an adequate handling fee for hospitality premises. Under the current regulations, hospitality businesses will receive a much lower handling fee for each vessel in contrast to businesses in the retail sector. This is despite hospitality businesses set to experience many of the same issues as retail, and due to the nature of many hospitality premises means that the impact could be more severe. In particular, the physical infrastructure required for dealing with containers will be significantly increased and require bespoke solutions for every hospitality premise. This will not just deal with increased storage but also the technical solutions required for the smooth operation of the DRS, such as handheld scanners. There will also be a requirement for significant training of staff and ongoing impact on staff time. Due to the closed-loop system likely to be utilised by many hospitality businesses, there will also be significant consumer communications required to explain how this operates. Increased costs will also be incurred by hospitality business through the increased cost of products, whilst also ensuring no leakage of containers from the premise when operating the closed-loop system.
There are also health and safety issues related to Covid and there needs to be consideration given to the safe handling and storing of used vessels. We also ask for your support in dialogue with CoSLA and local authorities with regards to the collection of materials. Currently, many local councils operate set collection times for refuge waste, and this could cause conflict with the collection of DRS materials which the current system would be unsuitable for many in our sector.”