DRS go ahead for glass bottles

MSPs publish their response to proposals

The group of MSPs backed glass.
The group of MSPs backed glass.

A SCOTTISH Parliament committee assessing deposit return has backed the inclusion of glass in the scheme – despite heavy criticism from industry.

After hearing evidence from various industry experts, members of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee have published their first full report on DRS.

The committee, made up of MSPs from various Scottish parties, stated that it “supports the introduction of DRS”, which will “take a considerable volume of material out of the waste stream.”

However, the report pointed out that the committee “shares some of the concerns expressed around the detail” of the scheme.

Glass was an issue that proved problematic for many of those who gave evidence at the committee hearings, with suggestions that including glass in DRS could “undermine” current kerbside recycling.

In its report, the committee said that while there were challenges posed by including glass, the scheme should be as “comprehensive” as possible and include glass from the outset.

In response, the SGF’s John Lee said: “The committee has essentially endorsed the inclusion of glass. This is very disappointing – they heard very robust evidence from across the supply chain that glass should not be included but chose to ignore it.

“Glass makes manual take back massively challenging for c-stores.”

And after several representatives expressed concern with the Scottish Government’s proposed flat rate deposit, the committee signalled that it could back a ‘variable deposit’ – set at different rates for different materials.

“Variable rates could be used in a number of ways to discourage materials switching or other unintended consequences, with 20 pence being the minimum level of deposit,” the committee said.

The timeline for DRS, currently expected to be introduced in Spring 2021, was also called into question. In its report, the committee said that having the scheme introduced within a year of passing the regulations “may be challenging in practice.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, of the Scottish Retail Consortium said: “The committee recognised more time will be needed for retailers to build the infrastructure needed to take back containers; and we hope the government will delay this until 2022 so the best system possible can be built.

“We are disappointed the committee didn’t accept our concerns about the inclusion of glass – a decision which will make the scheme £50 million more expensive to operate.”