SNP ministers finally admit Scotland’s DRS will not include glass after talks break down

Scotland’s deposit return scheme will not include glass, a senior SNP minister has confirmed.

SNP ministers have finally conceded that glass will not be included in Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) after four-nation talks to thrash out a deal broke down.

SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan has confirmed the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation that will water down the DRS to remove glass, a key request from the UK government, under Lorna Slater’s leadership.

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In June, Ms Slater, who was removed from government last week, was forced to delay the troubled policy until 2025 for a UK-wide scheme to be taken forward.

SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
SNP Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan (Picture:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

But four nations' talks over an aligned DRS have failed to agree on glass to be included, with UK ministers refusing to accept the material being part of the policy.

Now, Ms McAllan has admitted the Scottish scheme will not include glass bottles.

In a letter to Holyrood’s net zero, energy and transport committee, she highlighted that her officials “have been working closely with their counterparts across the four nations to design and agree interoperable deposit return schemes”.

But she has suggested that “interoperability does not necessarily mean identical schemes”, raising questions over whether a DRS for Scotland could still differ to similar policies in other parts of the UK.

The cabinet secretary stressed that the Scottish DRS would have launched in March had it not been for the “UK government’s decision to remove glass from its own scheme and to inexplicably and undemocratically deny Scotland a full exclusion from the Internal Market Act (IMA) at the eleventh hour”.

She added: “Since the UK government continues to use the IMA to block the implementation of devolved policy and has indicated it does not anticipate granting an exclusion to any nation on this matter, we have no choice but to launch a more limited DRS than parliament voted for to ensure that we can still realise the benefits from DRS.

“Therefore we have agreed to commence a DRS in Scotland without glass on day one, assuming this remains the position across all nations of the UK.”

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Ms McAllan has also pointed to the UK government confirming its original date for a UK-wide DRS has been pushed back from October 2025 to October 2027 and will “align with the delayed UK launch date”.

The joint policy statement sets out that all nations will develop a deposit management organisation (DMO) and have regulations in place by the spring of 2025 and have a year to be established and draw up a delivery plan.

The Scottish Government faced criticism after Circularity Scotland, the company set up to administer the original DRS folded in July 2023, with debts and liabilities of more than £86million while the publicly-owned Scottish National Investment Bank reported lost £8million in an unpaid loan by the collapse.

The policy statement highlights the “benefits of having the same organisation appointed to administer DRS across the UK” and calls on industries to consider the option.

The original DRS for Scotland intended to set the charge at 20p per container. But the joint proposals suggest “there will be an aligned deposit level across the UK” and “could be a flat or variable rate”. The level of deposit “will be determined by the DMO based on relevant evidence and research”.



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