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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
19 April 2023
Scottish Labour calls for DRS to be taken off Lorna Slater’s ministerial responsibilities

Lorna Slater in the Scottish Parliament | Alamy

Scottish Labour calls for DRS to be taken off Lorna Slater’s ministerial responsibilities

Scottish Labour has called on Humza Yousaf to cut the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) from Lorna Slater’s ministerial responsibilities.  

Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour spokesperson for Net Zero, Energy and Just Transition, penned a letter to the first minister, welcoming the seven-month delay to the scheme that he announced yesterday, but questioned whether circular economy minister Slater can “regain the confidence of the sector”, citing her “previous intransigence” during the setup of the scheme.  

Boyack told Yousaf: “The reality is that the minister has denied the inevitability of this delay for too long and now the whole scheme is in jeopardy to the point you have had to announce a delay.”

She asked the first minister to “make the most” of the delay, telling him “ministerial oversight and that leadership must also change”. Slater has come in for criticism for her handling of the scheme, which aims to increase recycling numbers of single-use drinks containers, from MSPs across the chamber and businesses. She denied Tory MSP Maurice Golden’s request for a delay to the scheme in late February 2023.  

Yousaf remains behind Slater, telling Holyrood yesterday that he is committed to DRS, but he recognises "the uncertainity", which he blamed on the UK Government "delaying the decision to exclude the scheme from the Internal Market Act".

Boyack said: “Stakeholders have repeatedly expressed their frustration that the minister does not meaningfully engage with them on amendments or revisions to the scheme and that she often passes the buck to Circularity Scotland, particularly in relation to the impact of the scheme on existing recycling and waste management schemes. However, Circularity Scotland is of course an organisation set up by industry, is not accountable and is exempt from standard transparency mechanisms such as FOI (freedom of information requests).    

“Having listened to businesses and other stakeholders over the last few months and raised their concerns both in parliament and directly with the minister, I strongly believe that to make the most of this further delay ministerial oversight and that leadership must also change.  

“Lorna Slater as the minister in charge has repeatedly dodged the most basic questions in an attempt to avoid acknowledging the failures in the proposed scheme. Scottish Labour believes that a government that does not take responsibility for governing, or for its mistakes, is not a government that can make better choices moving forward.    

“A change in approach from the Scottish Government is required and given the minister’s previous intransigence I would question whether Lorna Slater MSP can regain the confidence of the sector. I am therefore calling on you to remove ministerial responsibility for the Deposit Return Scheme from Ms Slater. In doing so I believe your government must take responsibility and demonstrate that it is serious about re-setting the relationship between your government and businesses and that you are changing your approach so that we can implement a Deposit Return Scheme that works and delivers for Scotland.”

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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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