Fears bottle return scheme won’t be ready by August deadline

empty plastic bottles

A major trade body fears Scotland’s deposit return scheme may not be ready for launch in August.

The flagship initiative is designed to boost recycling through a 20p deposit on single-use drinks bottles and cans.

But the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) said its members, who must register by March 1, had not yet seen an operational plan.

The Scottish government said it was working with industry to implement the scheme.

The chief executive of Circularity Scotland, the start-up company that will run the initiative, told BBC Scotland it would be ready for its August 16 launch date.

But Ewan MacDonald-Russell, deputy head of the SRC, urged ministers to provide clarity to their members by the end of the month.

Otherwise, he warned, consumers would face disruption, higher prices and reduced choice.

recycling denmark

Automatic recycling machines like this one are found in every supermarket in Denmark.

MacDonald-Russell said: “Despite this huge investment, we are alarmed by the failure of the government and the bodies it has approved to provide the key information needed for retailers to build a viable returns system.

“We are already well beyond reasonable timeframes for this scheme to land well in August.”

Following a meeting with Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater on Tuesday, MacDonald-Russell said the scheme was in the “last chance room”.

He added: “Unless the Scottish Government and its partners can deliver a full operating plan by the end of February, covering the key information retailers need to provide the necessary infrastructure for DRS to succeed, we don’t think the scheme can be launched.” successfully in mid-February”. -August.”

It warned that the potential consequences would leave consumers facing “a bewildering patchwork of approaches” that would make the recycling process “cumbersome.”

A woman selects a single use drink from a supermarket shelf

Shoppers will be charged an additional refundable fee when purchasing single-use beverages

Under the scheme, each Scotland-based producer will have to add 20p to each product it makes before it is sold anywhere in the country.

The retailer will then be charged, who in turn will bill the consumer.

To get this money back, people must take the empty bottles or cans to a reverse vending machine at a supermarket or to a designated drop-off point.

Dougal Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland there would be an additional 10 to 20 pence in administration costs per product associated with the scheme.

Taken together, that could mean consumers face paying an extra £1.60 for a four-pack of the company’s craft beers and £4 for a 10-pack.

Asked why he had described the scheme as “extortion” by the Scottish government, Sharp said: “Without signing the production deal we can’t sell anything in Scotland. It’s that simple.”

“But the big problem is that, contained in the producer’s agreement, there is an obligation that will require Innis & Gunn, should the scheme not launch on August 16 this year, to pay significant sums of money to Circularity Scotland. .

“So it’s a case of ‘if you don’t sign up, you can’t trade’ and ‘if you sign up and we don’t launch, you’re on the hook for significant sums of money.'”


Sharp described the sliding scale of liabilities, which he said amounted to an unsecured loan, as “tear-watering.”

For major companies, he said, this ranged from £50,000 to £1.5m a month.

Sharp said a “lot of infrastructure” was required before launch, from recycling centers to vehicles.

He added: “We are concerned that the complexity of the scheme and the significant costs, both to growers and end-users, could jeopardize its success.”


All types of drinks and all containers over 50 ml and up to three liters in size are included in the plan and the money will be refunded at the counter or using a reverse vending machine.

Justin Wingate of On Trade Scotland magazine told Good Morning Scotland that the additional costs would be passed on from the manufacturer to the consumer.

He also said there was uncertainty in the hospitality sector as to why Circularity Scotland and the Scottish government pushed so hard to implement something that “they themselves have admitted they are not ready for and are not ready for.”

Wingate added that massive pressure was being put on brands, venues and administrators to implement the scheme.

The issue has been hotly debated on social media and a thread by Edinburgh-based craft brewer Theo Barnes warned that smaller companies would face big cash flow problems.

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden also said companies had not received answers “to the most basic questions”.

But David Harris, chief executive of Circularity Scotland, said the responsibility for operating the scheme rested with the growers.

When asked about the current launch plan, he told Good Morning Scotland: “The outline will be ready.”

Mr. Harris described the initiative as “a very important piece of environmental infrastructure” that would have an impact on small and large growers, as well as convenience stores and supermarkets.

He added: “We are not saying it will be perfect on day one, but we are saying it will be up and running on time.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We have committed to a pragmatic approach to implementation and to making the scheme more efficient and reducing costs.

“Ministers and officials meet regularly with the industry and will continue to do so as we work together to implement this scheme.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *