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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
09 February 2023
Fergus Ewing calls for halt on 'disastrous' Deposit Return Scheme

Fergus Ewing | Alamy

Fergus Ewing calls for halt on 'disastrous' Deposit Return Scheme

Former SNP minister Fergus Ewing has called on the First Minister to put a halt to the “disastrous” Deposit Return Scheme before it becomes a “catastrophe”.

During First Minister’s Questions, the former business minister asked for a “thorough and independent review of how better to achieve its aims, and exclude glass from the scope, as the top six nations in the world on glass recycling have done”.  

Nicola Sturgeon said that she will “continue to listen to and engage with businesses. The steps we have taken already demonstrate that”.  

She noted that there are 44 countries currently operating deposit return schemes, and that only four do not include glass, adding that “there are strong environmental reasons for including glass.”

Ewing asked the First Minister on what she thought of reports that 600 drinks producers “are concerned about the impact of on their businesses and [their] survival” in relation to the scheme.  

Sturgeon said that they “will continue to listen to, and where possible address the concerns that have been raised”. She said the Scottish Government had been working with Circularity Scotland, the scheme administrator, in response to feedback in trying to bring down costs to businesses.

The First Minister added in a later response to Ewing: “We will continue to reduce any impact on small producers, because I think some of the concerns there are not unreasonable.”

Conservative MSP Maurice Golden warned that drinks manufacturers who sign up to the scheme will be “financially liable for any delays, having to fork out up to £1.5m per month.”

He added: “Making matters worse, they are being asked to sign up with key information still missing, but if they don’t sign up, they can’t sell their products. One leading Scottish brewer described it as extortion tactics.”

Golden asked if the deadline for registration, which is this month, should be pushed back until “the full operational, commercial, and financial implications of the scheme are provided”.  

The First Minister said she was “struck” that when they announced an extension to the “go-live” date of the scheme it had been criticised by the Conservatives.

She told Golden: “We continue to work with Circularity Scotland and with businesses as they finalise their operational delivery plans.

“This is an industry lead scheme, and the industry needs to work with the scheme administrator on a joined-up approach to delivering it.”

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Read the most recent article written by Ruaraidh Gilmour - Scotland's circular economy: What goes around comes around.



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