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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
20 April 2023
Lorna Slater announces changes to the Deposit Return Scheme

The deposit return scheme is now scheduled to begin in March 2024 | Alamy

Lorna Slater announces changes to the Deposit Return Scheme

Lorna Slater has announced changes to the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) aimed at making it easier for drinks producers and retailers to prepare for the scheme.  

The circular economy minister’s changes to the controversial scheme will primarily focus on craft drinks producers and pubs which provide off-sales.  

The tweaks include excluding drinks containers under 100ml, removing miniatures and other smaller containers from the scheme, while producers which sell fewer than 5,000 units per year will also not be included, a move the Scottish Government hopes will help the craft drinks producers.  

The Scottish Government anticipates that introducing a threshold of 5,000 units per year will only remove around 0.5 per cent of articles from the scheme, but will remove the need for around 44 per cent of businesses to apply a deposit to their products.  

Hospitality premises which sell the majority of their drinks on the premises will not have to act as a return point. The online application for retailers to apply for exemption from providing a return point has been simplified.  

Drinks producers have until 12 January 2024 to register for the scheme.  

Slater said: “Scotland’s deposit return scheme will reduce litter on our streets, massively increase the recycling of drinks containers and help meet our net zero ambitions.  

“However, to realise these benefits DRS needs to be delivered in a way that works for businesses, especially for small drinks producers. The changes I have set out will make the scheme easier for industry to deliver – especially for craft producers – while still making sure the vast majority of drinks containers are captured for recycling.  

“To move forward with certainty, the UK Government must stop delaying the long overdue exclusion from the Internal Market Act. This damaging Act was imposed on the Scottish Parliament after Brexit without its consent and creates confusion and uncertainty for businesses.  
“After that Act was passed, we engaged in good faith, following the agreed process, and have done so for nearly two years now to agree an exclusion. The UK Government needs to at long last issue an exclusion, and recognise the right of the Scottish Parliament to enact legislation in devolved areas without interference.”

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