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Scotland announces DRS implementation date

Published:  15 December, 2021

Scotland's Minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity has confirmed that the nation's inaugural Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will launch next year.

Due to start on 16 August 2022, the project has been stymied by several delays over the past 12 months.

Nevertheless, the news was welcomed by the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) – the first trade association to support the introduction of a DRS.

Scottish President Ferhan Ashiq said: “After several false starts and delays, the NFRN welcomes the certainty that today’s announcement from the government brings. Now we have confirmation of a start date, retailers and Circulatory Scotland, the scheme administrator, can begin to work out what this will mean for their stores and how DRS will be incorporated into their offer to customers.”

He added: “There is much to be done, but we can now start to focus on delivering a scheme that will work for all retailers – large and small – and achieve its aim of increasing the availability of high-quality recycled plastic, metal and glass and decreasing the number of these items being discarded as litter.”

The implementation of a UK-wide DRS scheme was initially suggested back in 2018, when the government published its Resources and Waste Strategy. A key element of this strategy would be the roll out of a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls voiced her concerns about the potential pressures of implementing DRC in England, including safety and space concerns, increased business costs and additional red tape.

“We support the principle and aims of a DRS system and believe that it could be an effective vehicle to improve recycling rates across the UK.

“However, such a scheme must not overly burden hospitality businesses, which are in a fragile state following more than a year of punitive restrictions to trading,” Nicholls said.

As reported in Harpers, the government has launched its second consultation into a DRS for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Implementation will not occur until late 2024 at the earliest.