DRS to go ahead in Scotland but will not include glass

The deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland will be able to go ahead from March 2024 but will not include glass as originally planned.

The deposit return scheme in Scotland will cover cans and plastic bottles, but not glass containers as previously planned.

The UK Government said it would grant a exemption to the internal market act (IMA) to allow the DRS to be introduced in Scotland on the condition that glass is excluded.

Glass bottles are not included in the plans for England and Northern Ireland, due to be implemented in 2025, and the UK Government does not want the schemes to cover different materials as this would create a trade barrier with other parts of the UK.

Lorna Slater, the MSP responsible for overseeing the DRS in Scotland, said: “We are now going to have to look very seriously at where this leaves the viability of the Scottish scheme.”

However, the move has been welcomed by many businesses. Colin Smith, chief executive of the Scottish Wholesale Association, said: “The Scottish Wholesale Association welcomes the news that the UK Government has agreed to a conditional IMA exemption. We see this as a positive move in the delivery of a successful Scottish DRS next year and its future expansion UK-wide.

Colin Smith: ‘The Scottish Wholesale Association welcomes the news that the UK Government has agreed to a conditional IMA exemption.’

“Our members trade in a UK-wide drinks industry and supply chain. As members of Circularity Scotland (CSL), we’ve been proactively working to ensure Scotland’s scheme is effective and goes live as designed by the Scottish Government.

“However, we have argued for several years that a UK-wide approach made more sense and that including glass increased costs and complexity.

“Glass inclusion is currently the main difference between the Scottish and English schemes so it represents a major change. This move will be particularly welcomed by licensed wholesalers who are wine and spirits importers and treated as producers under DRS regulations. This will also massively reduce the numbers of SKUs affected for all wholesalers.

“While the UK Government’s late timing of this announcement is disrespectful to all the businesses which have been waiting for this confirmation, it’s now critical that the Scottish and UK governments work together, and with those affected businesses, at pace to ensure that the Scottish scheme can go live smoothly next spring and the UK-wide schemes can work as seamlessly as possible in future.

“We know there has been considerable effort and investment put into plans for glass to be included. It cannot be beyond the wit of both governments to find ways in which that infrastructure and investment might be channelled to assist glass recovery outwith the DRS.”

Published Date: May 28, 2023
Category: Wholesale Industry News