Mixed response to Scottish Parliament’s DRS approval

Reverse vending machine in store
An example of a reverse vending machine

THE news that the Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of regulations for a deposit return scheme (DRS) has been met with a mixed response.

British Glass said that it will work ‘to minimise the damage to the Scottish glass industry’ that it expects DRS to cause. Commenting on the news of the vote, the industry body’s CEO, Dave Dalton, said, “We were not alone in asking the Scottish Government to delay the DRS regulations until the impact of COVID-19 is known. Many businesses, including those part of our industry and supply chain are not in the position to face the additional burden the scheme will place on them.

“We continue to believe an alternative Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model would increase the recycling rates of glass, be more cost-effective and offer double the CO2 savings than a DRS in Scotland.

“Although we do not believe a DRS is the right solution for glass recycling, we will work with the Scottish Government and the scheme administrator to minimise the damage to the Scottish glass industry and to ensure the highest possible recycling rates to provide the vital quality and quantity of cullet needed for our glass manufacturers.”

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) said that the evidence on which the DRS is based on will change, once the Covid-19 restrictions start easing.

Colin Smith, SWA chief executive, said, “Scotland’s food and drink wholesalers will be bitterly disappointed that the DRS regulations have been passed by Parliament rather than being halted and revisited after Covid-19 disruption has dissipated.

“This is meant to be an evidence-based policy but the evidence on which it is built – container numbers, return points, queueing spaces, online food shopping – will have fundamentally changed as business exits Covid-19.

“Wholesalers and others in food and drink are already under intense pressure with some businesses fighting for their very survival – there will be no time or money to spend trying to assist the Scottish Government or a still-to-be formed Scheme Administrator to set up the DRS.”

However, The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) expressed their approval of the scheme moving forward and their intent to continue to help shape it.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said, “We’re pleased that the Scottish Government has taken the concerns of local shops into consideration with regards to the regulations for implementing a scheme. This is only the beginning of a long and complex journey, and we are committed to working with the Scottish Government and the scheme administrator to deliver a workable scheme.”

NFRN national president, Stuart Reddish, added, “With the passing of the regulations by the Scottish Parliament it is now important that progress is made in delivering a robust scheme that works for retailers and customers alike”

SGF chief executive, Pete Cheema OBE, commented, “We are now moving into the next phase of DRS and the response from industry will be crucial. We remain concerned about the impact of the current COVID crisis on businesses and their ability to plan for and invest in the scheme. However, we look forward to working with the scheme administrator once it is formed and indeed would welcome the opportunity to be part of it.”