WSTA slams Scottish govt for bottle deposit return scheme

20th March, 2020 by Owen Bellwood

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has hit out at the Scottish government for pursuing legislation to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme while the drinks industry is struggling to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The Scottish Government hopes to introduce a deposit return scheme in 2022

Earlier this week, the Scottish government announced legislation to introduce a deposit return scheme (DRS) in summer 2022, which would cover glass bottles.

The WSTA has labelled the decision by the Scottish government to “plough on regardless” with the legislation “completely insensitive” as many pubs, bars and other on-trade venues across Scotland attempt to cope with the “unprecedented pressure as a result of the coronavirus outbreak”.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “It is completely insensitive to so many businesses at this most difficult time, that the Scottish government has tabled this legislation.

“The majority of companies that will be affected by the introduction of DRS are currently under serious threat as a result of covid-19, and adding extra financial burdens to their business shows a level of indifference by Scottish officials.

“We have long argued that glass bottles should be excluded from the scheme and that a higher rate of glass recycling could be best achieved by improved kerbside collection, but have been fearful that the Scottish government is simply not listening.

“The announcement earlier this week all but confirms exactly that. The Scottish government’s actions run counter to the idea that they are open to scrutiny, interested in improving glass recycling, or in seeking to support businesses struggling at this time. This is a politically motivated decision at a most inopportune time.”

The industry body is calling on all UK Governments to suspend the introduction of any new legislation that could have a cost on UK businesses and put “unnecessary strain” on the hospitality sector.

The WSTA is asking the Scottish government to follow the Northern Ireland Assembly’s lead and pause all non-essential business in order that activity does not distract from the delivery of public services dealing with the impact of covid-19.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, UK Hospitality has made an urgent plea for employment support and warned more than one million jobs could be lost in 24 hours as consumers avoid on-trade venues following government advice over the outbreak.

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