The launch of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme will be delayed until at least October 2025 as a consequence of the UK Government’s refusal to agree a full exclusion from the Internal Market Act, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater has told Parliament.
Last week the UK Government imposed a number of highly significant conditions on the scheme, including the removal of glass and the requirement to align aspects of the scheme with schemes across the UK – none of which exist at the moment or have regulations in place.
Following consultations with key businesses including producers, Ministers have concluded that certainty on critical elements of the scheme cannot be provided to businesses until the UK Government publishes more detail and therefore Scotland’s deposit return scheme will not go live until October 2025 at the earliest.
Addressing Parliament, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:
“It is now clear that we have been left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS, until October 2025 at the earliest based on the UK Government’s current stated aspirations.
I remain committed to interoperable DRS schemes across the UK provided that we can work in a spirit of collaboration not imposition. I wrote again last night to the UK Government, to urge ministers to reset a climate of trust and good faith to galvanise and retain the knowledge that has been built in Circularity Scotland and DRS partners in Scotland.
This Parliament voted for a Deposit Return Scheme. I am committed to a Deposit Return Scheme. Scotland will have a Deposit Return Scheme. It will come later than need be. It will be more limited than it should be. More limited than Parliament voted for.
These delays and dilutions lie squarely in the hands of UK Government that has sadly seemed so far more intent on sabotaging this parliament than protecting our environment.”
In response to the Ministerial Statement the Scottish Licensed Trade Association issued the following press release:-
The SLTA has welcomed the news that Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) will be delayed until at least October 2025, giving hospitality businesses the “breathing space they need to concentrate on the more pressing issues” – but warned that the next steps “must be the right steps, leaving politics out of it”.
Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said:
“We have always said that we will support a DRS that is workable and practicable for both businesses and consumers – the DRS proposed by the Scottish Government was not.
Over five years ago, the SLTA, along with other hospitality trade and retail groups, told the Scottish Government that any DRS should be UK-wide and without glass, and include a standardised deposit charge, bar codes and labelling across the UK.
Common sense has prevailed at last – yet the latest twist in this soap opera also throws up a whole load of questions: Will the UK be ready to implement a scheme in autumn 2025? Where does it leave Circularity Scotland (CLS), the scheme administrator in Scotland?
It’s quite staggering when you consider how much time and financial investment has been invested by the hospitality and retail sectors, producers, and the Scottish Government in trying to plan a DRS for Scotland that is now going nowhere.
It’s now time for reflection and pause for thought to consider the implications for everyone involved before taking any decisions on what happens next.”
Mr Wilkinson added:
It is hugely disappointing that DRS – something that should be a force for good – has been reduced to a tardy political battle. Businesses deserve better than this.
The next steps must be the right steps with both the Scottish and UK governments and industry taking a grown-up approach – focusing on what is right for businesses and consumers – and leaving politics out of it.”