Scotland and UK cannot afford to lose DRS says administrator

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Concerns voiced: Circularity Scotland says negative political debate is obscuring the environmental benefits of the DRS (credit: Getty/Monty Rakusen)
Concerns voiced: Circularity Scotland says negative political debate is obscuring the environmental benefits of the DRS (credit: Getty/Monty Rakusen)

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Too much money has been invested into the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for it not to go ahead as planned says the initiative’s organiser Circularity Scotland.

The not-for-profit membership company, which is running the DRS to help Scotland’s commitment to meeting its Net Zero targets, added the scheme’s benefits are being obscured by negative political debate.

It also said DRS is ready to launch in March 2024 – even if glass is not included, £300m has been invested in its infrastructure that is creating more than 650 jobs and labelled the proposal as the front runner that will be copied across the UK after its implementation.

Circularity Scotland, which comprises producers, retailers, hospitality and wholesalers and trade associations, who together represent more than 90% of the market in Scotland, said DRS has become mired in political differences that have obscured its environmental and financial benefits that are evident in more than 50 other schemes around the world.

20p deposit on containers

To date, about £300m has been invested in DRS with more than 650 jobs being created across Circularity Scotland and its partners.

The group, which was appointed as administrator of the scheme in 2021, said the scheme – which will see a 20p deposit added to drinks containers to be refunded when they are returned empty – is crucial to Scotland’s commitment to climate change targets and will remove hundreds of millions of bottles and cans from streets, beaches and green spaces.

Circularity Scotland chief executive David Harris said: “We have all invested millions of pounds, creating hundreds of jobs and have brought together the best and brightest people to deliver a ground-breaking scheme, which can be the foundation for schemes elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

“I am disappointed at how the laudable aims of this scheme and its environmental and business benefits have become the target of negativity and misinformation.”

Essential vanguard

He added the Scottish government’s removal of glass from the scheme changes the economic model of the scheme and the breadth of the environmental benefits it will provide but said there would be a risk to jobs and investment if the scheme does not go ahead for cans and plastic.

Turning to DRS scheme plans for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Harris warned failing to go ahead with DRS in Scotland could have serious consequences elsewhere.

He said: “Launching in Scotland is an essential vanguard and pathfinder for a scaled up and interoperable pan-UK scheme. Adopting this approach and avoiding a ‘big bang’ launch makes a lot of sense and is achievable.

“Scotland is a valuable opportunity to prove the concept of a self-funding Deposit Return Scheme, accessible to all producers.”

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