Deposit return scheme is set for shake up

Media reports major changes to Scotland’s incoming deposit return scheme

Reverse vending machine in the corner of a store against a green wall and window.
Media sources have been reporting that glass bottles could be removed from Scotland’s incoming DRS in a major shake up to the scheme.

THE UK Government is thought to be considering removing glass bottles from the deposit return scheme before it goes live next year.

Following a month of questions about whether or not the scheme may have to be scrapped due to issues with the Internal Markets Act, media outlets have now been reporting that the UK Government is considering removing glass bottles from the scheme as a conditional agreement to the exemption from the act.

Further conditions are expected here as well as speculation over deposit charges, barcodes and labelling across the UK with businesses that sign up to the Scottish scheme automatically signed up to the UK-wide one when that goes live in 2025.

Effectively turning Scotland’s DRS into a pilot scheme for the UK wide one, Scottish Government politicians have spoken out since the media broke the news Friday morning.

First Minister Humza Yousaf reportedly said it was a “demonstration of disrespect” from the UK Government according to BBC News whilst also acknowledging that producers have already invested billions of pounds into the scheme when they believed it would include glass containers.

While the Scottish Government has voiced its outrage over the new regulations from Westminster, members of the Scottish convenience channel have welcomed the news.

Colin Smith, chief executive at the Scottish Wholesale Association, said that he welcomed the conditional exemption from the Internal Markets Act, stating it as a “positive move in delivery of a successful Scottish DRS.”

He said: “We have argued for several years that a UK-wide approach made more sense and that including glass increased costs and complexity.

“Glass inclusion is currently the main difference between the Scottish and English schemes so it represents a major change.

“This move will be particularly welcomed by licensed wholesalers who are wine and spirits importers and treated as producers under DRS regulations.

“This will also massively reduce the numbers of SKUs affected for all wholesalers.”

Mo Razzaq, national vice president at the Federation of Independent Retailers and Blantyre retailer, welcomed the news from the UK Government and called on ScotGov to introduce new measures that could curb glass waste as well as compensate retailers who have already bought a reverse vending machine.

He said: “If glass is ultimately exempt from the Scottish scheme, it is vitally important that an alternative measure is introduced to ensure litter decreases and more bottles are reused.

“There is clearly headroom for improvement in Scotland’s level of success in reaching targets to curb waste of the Earth’s resources.

“If, in the end, the Scottish scheme omits glass, it is important that independent retailers who took out leasing contracts for complex machines to handle returned containers including glass, are compensated for their losses.”