SNP stalwart calls for DRS plans to be paused

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A prominent SNP MSP has called for Scotland’s planned introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) to be paused for at least 18 months.

DRS is due to go live in Scotland this August, requiring consumers to pay a 20p deposit on single-use containers, which they get back once returned. Materials included in the scheme include single-use containers made from PET plastic, glass, steel and aluminium.

Speaking on The Sunday Show on the BBC, former Scottish Government minister¬† Fergus Ewing said the scheme, as it stands, has ‘fundamental’ flaws that he doesn’t believe can be fixed. He cited the Scottish Government’s own gateway review, which revealed challenges and impacts are yet to be resolved.

“Even to call it a scheme or a plan is misleading because the basic elements are unclear,” Mr Ewing claimed on the programme. He said small producers, which face threats to their survival, as well as the hospitality trade, which faces ‘huge extra costs’, are ‘absolutely petrified’ of having to make a ‘Devil’s choice’ between facing exiting the market in Scotland or signing up and exposing themselves to costs.

“There needs to be a halt,” Mr Ewing added. “The scheme cannot go ahead as planned in August. It simply will not work and it will be worse for the environment because it will add millions of car miles with people taking the material back to the return points and with the vans collecting it there from. We need to pause for at least 18 months.”

Mr Ewing called for both an independent review, and a summit where the first minister and deputy first minister can hear from people in the trades most impacted.

He also suggested that the DRS should exclude glass, citing that the world’s most successful glass recycling countries – Belgium, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Ireland and Austria – do not have a DRS for glass.

“I think that the idea of excluding glass, as indeed the UK are planning to do, is worthy of very serious consideration indeed,” Mr Ewing stated.