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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
19 May 2023
DRS could be axed this month, says Lorna Slater

Lorna Slater | Alamy

DRS could be axed this month, says Lorna Slater

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) could be axed this month if it is not granted exemption from the Internal Market Act.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said if UK ministers do not give the go-ahead the Scottish Government would have to decide on the future of the scheme.  

Speaking at the Scottish Grocers' Federation, Slater said that without a response on DRS, which will see the introduction of a 20p deposit on top of the price of all single-use drinks containers made of PET plastic, metal or glass, could be rendered “unviable”. She had hoped to receive a response by 17 April.

The Green minister said the “uncertainty” over approval could see the scheme scrapped altogether in its current state, telling the conference that “by the end of May we’ll know either way.”

Slater said: “The first minister wrote to the prime minister last week, setting a deadline at the end of May.

“So, if we haven’t heard from them by the end of May, because of the concerns around the viability of the scheme going forward, we will have to make a proactive decision at that point as to whether the scene is viable or not to move forward.

“I can’t say exactly how that’s going to fall out. We’re still working very closely with the UK Government to make that happen.

“You know, this is now at as high as you can go, this is the first minister talking directly to the prime minister about this. It’s at the highest possible level. So, I’m hoping to find out urgently.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “It defies belief that, after her staggering mishandling of this scheme has led to its delay, Lorna Slater should still be trying to pass the buck to Westminster.

 “When major retailers are calling for a UK-wide approach and smaller ones are still waiting for information about how it will work, and whether they will be compensated for the huge costs she has landed them with, she’s effectively trying to blackmail the UK Government into bailing her out.

 “The reality is that her version of DRS had to be paused because there were so many unanswered questions and legitimate concerns. She and the SNP-Green government should be accepting responsibility, making amends, and completely rethinking so that we can have a scheme that actually delivers.”

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