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Environment / Delayed deposit return scheme a ‘shambles’, Wishart says

THE PROPOSED deposit return scheme is a good idea but has turned into a “shambles”, according to Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart.

It comes as the Scottish Government confirmed on Wednesday that the scheme had been pushed back again to October 2025.

It was originally set for August this year before being delayed to March 2024.

The scheme, which aims to boost recycling and reduce litter, would see people pay 20p on products sold in recyclable containers before getting the money back when they return the packaging.

But the Scottish Government said the controversial project has been put back to 2025 after the UK Government excluded glass from the scheme.

The scheme had come under fire for the effect it could place on small drinks producers.

Wishart told Shetland News: “The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) now faces its fourth delay with businesses stuck in the middle, incurring costs and left to navigate a lot of uncertainty.

“DRS is good idea but in the hands of two governments, which see political advantage in stoking division and indulging in constitutional spats, it has turned into a shambles.

“Time will tell what the next version of DRS will be but what loses out in all of this, as well as businesses who have invested in the scheme, is the environment.”

Scottish circular economy minister Lorna Slater said this week that the “overwhelming feedback from producers, retailers and hospitality is that they cannot prepare for a March launch based on the changes being required by the UK government without any certainty even about what those changes would be”.

SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick said that the UK Government has undermined devolution by “interfering” with the scheme.

“The Scottish Government listened to criticism and acted upon it, and we were on track for a successful launch next year which took into account concerns from small businesses and wider industry,” she said.

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“For the UK Government to come in and interfere at this stage, causing the scheme a further delay, is sadly just another example of its disregard for devolution and all those who are trying to tackle climate change, including many businesses who have already invested in the things they need to take part in Scotland’s scheme.”

Meanwhile the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Highlands and Islands Development Manager David Richardson said the way the government went about implementing the scheme was “fundamentally flawed”.

“In particular, FSB Scotland spent five years questioning the cost, space and time involved, but there seemed to be no real attempt to address our concerns,” he said.

“And as time passed it became increasingly obvious that DRS would damage small producers and retailers.”

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