DRS administrator confident recycling scheme will begin on time

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Recycling plan: 650 companies have signed for the DRS according to Circularity Scotland (credit: Getty/bunhill)
Recycling plan: 650 companies have signed for the DRS according to Circularity Scotland (credit: Getty/bunhill)

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Circularity Scotland is confident Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is on course for an August launch despite previous protestations from trade bodies.

The scheme’s administrator claimed producers responsible for more than 95% of the containers sold in Scotland are now registered for the recycling programme while SEPA, the scheme’s regulator, has confirmed registration will remain open to enable all producers to sign up in time for the launch of the DRS on 16 August 2023.

Circularity Scotland confirmed that by midnight on 28 February, more than 650 large, small and medium-sized producers, responsible for more than 2bn recyclable drinks containers, had registered for the scheme.

Products from a range of sectors, including craft brewers, wine importers and distilleries, have been registered with the scheme with 26,000 types of recyclable products registered, “illustrating the scale of the scheme and the choice that will exist for consumers”.

Fantastic start

Circularity Scotland chief executive David Harris said: “This is a fantastic start and a real landmark for the DRS, which is set to deliver ground-breaking environmental benefits to Scotland.

“We’ve never underestimated the challenge of delivering a scheme that requires the support of so many Scottish businesses. They will all be helping us to reach the goal of recycling billions of PET plastic, glass and metal drinks containers a year.  We’re now well on the way to achieving that vital ambition.”

Trade bodies in Scotland called for an urgent review of the DRS​ stating there were “fundamental flaws” in the proposal.

A joint statement from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) stated: “The registration for DRS closes within days at the end of February and while these recently announced changes will certainly alleviate cashflow issues when the system is introduced, it leaves a mountain to be climbed for small businesses to be compliant with the scheme, with essential changes still needed to fix the system’s fundamental flaws.”

Flawed model

Meanwhile, UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson added: “The flawed model, complexity and burdens of the scheme will put unnecessary pressure on both businesses and consumers, who are all struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.”

Another scheme was launched on Wednesday 1 March, which was registration for Return Point Operators (RPOs).

An RPO is anyone who provides a service for the collection of recyclable PET plastic, metal and glass containers included in Scotland’s scheme and refunds consumers’ deposits.

Most retailers and hospitality businesses that sell drinks to take away are legally required to operate a return point. This includes online retailers of drinks. However, they can apply for an exemption based on proximity to other return points or environmental health reasons. This is being managed by Zero Waste Scotland.

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