Trade bodies 'welcome' DRS delay

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Review and redesign: trade bodies welcome DRS delay (Credit: Getty/Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd)
Review and redesign: trade bodies welcome DRS delay (Credit: Getty/Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd)

Related tags Legislation Scotland Government

The delay to the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland has been welcomed by trade bodies across the sector.

Scotland’s newly appointed First Minister Humza Yousaf​ yesterday (Tuesday 18 April) announced the scheme, which was due to go live in August this year, would now come into effect from March 2024.

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “An immediate delay and review of the poorly designed DRS​ was UKHospitality Scotland’s most significant request of the new First Minister and I’m delighted he has acted on these calls.

“Not only will the delay to the DRS​ avoid inflicting enormous pain and cost onto hospitality businesses this August, but it also offers a signal to business their concerns are being heard and their importance to the Scottish economy recognised.”

Yousaf stated the delay was to ensure a successful launch by simplifying the scheme and addressing concerns raised regarding the plans.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) added the decision to delay the implementation of the scheme​ was “welcome” and provided “much-needed clarity”, giving more time for the sector to prepare.

Review and redesign 

However, the Night-Time Industries association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill claimed the scheme as designed was “fundamentally flawed” and remained “unworkable” for much of the sector.

Kill added: "Scotland's DRS​ as currently proposed cannot be fixed by tweaking around the edges, and a total redesign, learning the lessons of schemes elsewhere, is needed.  

“If there is to be a scheme it also must be identical in scope across the UK, launching at the same time UK wide, and it should be much simpler and less expensive to implement.
"We urge the Scottish Government to now engage in meaningful consultation with businesses and commission a full review and redesign from scratch of the DRS​."

Operators previously raised concerns regarding cost implications of the scheme, which as it stands would see consumers be given money back by returning plastic containers to retailers and hospitality venues selling single-use products to take away.

Breweries​ and distributors also faced cost worries under the plans, which would mean updating packaging and barcode systems in its current format.

Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said: “The scheme needs significant amendment to achieve an improvement in the quality of recycling rates and only then can any start date can be considered realistic. 

Disproportionate burden 

“The scheme's success will rely on the Scottish Government undertaking a full review of DRS​, with industry's views being considered meaningfully because it is the industry on which Government is reliant for meeting the costs of collection and recycling, and for delivering an effective scheme.

In addition to the DRS delay, Yousaf also confirmed a review to business rates and the alcohol advertising consultation, which the SBPA praised.

The SBPA spokesperson continued: “This too would have placed a disproportionate burden on Scotland’s pubs and brewers at a time when they are contending with a range of other issues threatening the very viability of their businesses.”

Thompson added the commitment to review these issues further indicated the Scottish Government will be taking business more seriously and were “extremely welcome” but called for productive changes ahead of the new DRS date.

He added: “A wholesale business rates review, in particular, has been a long-standing ask of UKHospitality Scotland, in order to bring the system into the modern age.

“Let’s not forget the DRS will return in March next year and the next 10 months need to be used extremely wisely and productively to make it fit-for-purpose.

“Meaningful engagement with hospitality businesses is essential to get this right and UKHospitality Scotland is eager to work with the Scottish Government on just that.”

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