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by Kirsteen Paterson
27 February 2023
Kate Forbes: Deposit return scheme is a 'badly executed'

Kate Forbes visits the Cairngorm Brewery

Kate Forbes: Deposit return scheme is a 'badly executed'

The Scottish Government's deposit return scheme (DRS) is a "good idea badly executed" and must be "reworked", SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes has said.

Speaking at Cairngorm Brewery in Aviemore, part of her constituency, Forbes said: "I believe in the principle, but the execution has to work too."

The comments come ahead of tomorrow's deadline for firms to complete the registration process with Circularity Scotland or be excluded from the scheme.

Forbes said: "The deposit return scheme is an example of a good idea badly executed. If we want a stronger economy, we need to get better at delivering good ideas well."

Aimed at boosting recycling and due to go live in August, the scheme places a 20p deposit on single-use drinks cans and bottles. Consumers use reverse vending machines to get that money back.

Critics say it will raise costs for companies and create problems for the public. Meanwhile, there is a suggestion that it could lead to further friction with the UK Government, which may not grant an opt-out from the UK Internal Market Act.

At the weekend, circular economy minister Lorna Slater said the Scottish Government is "actively considering" a 12-month grace period for small producers.

Forbes' SNP leadership rivals Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan have also expressed concerns about the scheme, with Yousaf calling for a pause for small firms and Regan suggesting it should be redesigned or scrapped.

Forbes, who first signaled her position on the scheme in an interview with Holyrood, said the scheme "is likely to put jobs at risk" at Cairngorm Brewery and elsewhere. She went on: "That is a huge warning light that parts of the scheme need to be reworked."

Raising the example of Knoydart Brewery, on the peninsula inaccessible by road, she said: "You can only get there by ferry and there is no reverse vending machine at all. To expect people to travel over half an hour be boat to recycle is clearly not workable.

"So what I'm saying is that the implementation of DRS needs to be paused and sense-checked, and that's what I'll do if I'm elected as leader."

Lib Dem climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur called on ministers to "press pause", saying: " The Scottish Government has prioritised haste over detail. Vital questions remain unanswered, putting businesses in an impossible position and leaving many worried about their future."

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