Lorna Slater suggests deposit return scheme could be axed by end of month without UK government exemption

Scotland’s controversial deposit return scheme could be axed by the end of the month if a UK government internal market exemption is not received, Green minister Lorna Slater has said.
Lorna SlaterLorna Slater
Lorna Slater

The start of the scheme, which will introduce a 20p deposit on the price of drinks in cans and bottles which is repaid to consumers when they are returned to retailers, has already been delayed from August to March next year.

Despite it being mired in difficulties, the Scottish Government has said the delay was primarily due to the UK Government not granting an exemption to the Internal Market Act (IMA), which was implemented after Brexit to regulate trade within the UK.

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Circular economy minister Ms Slater told the Scottish Grocers’ Federation conference yesterday that the lack of response could mean the scheme is “unviable”.

She was reported to have said: “The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister last week, setting a deadline at the end of May.

“So if we haven’t heard from them by the end of May, because of the concerns around the viability of the scheme going forward, we will have to make a proactive decision at that point as to whether the scene is viable or not to move forward.

“I can’t say exactly how that’s going to fall out. We’re still working very closely with the UK government to make that happen.”

Yesterday, business leaders hit out at the Scottish Government over its “unworkable, unsustainable, and undeliverable ultimatum” to retailers contained in the DRS.

The Scottish Retail Consortium SRC warned the amended regulations for the scheme could result in some companies stopping internet sales.

Deposit return will see shoppers charged a 20p deposit every time they buy a drink in a can or bottle, with this money returned to customers when the empty containers are brought back for recycling.