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by Louise Wilson
17 November 2021
Scottish Government delays implementation of deposit return scheme

Scottish Government delays implementation of deposit return scheme

The introduction of the deposit return scheme for cans and bottles has been delayed, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater blamed Covid and Brexit as she announced the scheme would not begin in July 2022 as planned.

She told MSPs on Wednesday afternoon: “Unfortunately the very business who will be most instrumental in making the DRS operate – including hospitality businesses, small convenience stores and small brewers – were and still are badly affected by the pandemic and the mismanagement of Brexit.”

She also said there were “unresolved issues”, including a lack of clarity on VAT treatment of deposits from the UK Government which meant adding unnecessary cost and time delays to the scheme.

A new timeline for introduction of the scheme has not been set. Slater said: “The government is committed to the scheme being operational as soon as practically possible.”

Scottish Labour environment spokesperson Mercedes Villalba said the delay showed "how low down the government’s agenda this vital legislation is."

She added: "The SNP and the Scottish Greens are all too happy to backslide on their environmental commitments time and time again – the people of Scotland and our planet deserve better."

The Green minister also announced there would be a review into the use of incineration, to be led by waste management expert Dr Colin Church.

While the review was underway, councils have been instructed to notify ministers of any new planning applications for incinerators and when they are minded to grant permission for them.

This will effectively delay the creation of new incinerators at least until the review is complete.

Tory MSP Maurice Golden accused Slater of breaking her promise to ban new incinerators.

He also urged the government to use the extra time on the DRS to ensure it will align with a wider UK system and to create a digital app to support home collection.

He said the DRS tender process of “shrouded in secrecy” and called for release of the brief and specification.

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