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UK Hospitality: pause ‘devastating’ DRS

The “devastating” impact of Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) has become “glaringly evident” and should be paused immediately, UK Hospitality has urged.

There are widespread calls across the industry to delay Scotland’s planned DRS

The hospitality trade body said the scheme was “not fit for purpose” and has been marred by “insufficient preparation”, coupled with a leadership contest following first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation this month (February).

Leon Thompson, UK Hospitality Scotland executive director, stated: “Finally, common sense is prevailing in Holyrood as the complexity and devastating impact of the deposit return scheme becomes glaringly evident.

“The flawed model, complexity and burdens of the scheme will put unnecessary pressure on both businesses and consumers, who are all struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“These cast-iron facts, alongside concerns around how it could impact trading with the rest of the UK, necessitate an immediate halt to the scheme’s introduction and I am calling on all leadership candidates to commit to pausing and then ordering a full review of this now discredited scheme.”

On 16 August 2023, Scotland is due to become the first country in the UK to implement a DRS. Consumers will have to pay a 20p deposit when buying a drink in a single-use container made from plastic, glass, steel or aluminium, sized between 50ml and three litres.

The 20p deposit is refundable by the drink’s producer when the container is returned for recycling to one of 30,000-plus centres across the country.

Producers have until 28 February 2023 to register with the scheme.

“With all nations in the UK planning to introduce a deposit return scheme, we need to see a UK-wide scheme that works for businesses and consumers, as well as all our sustainability and net zero goals,” Thompson added.

“Hospitality businesses are not against a scheme, but they want one that takes account of the excellent rates of recycling across our sector and targets resources where DRS can make a difference to littering and sustainability targets. The current iteration does none of that which is why a full review is now essential.”

Speaking to The Spirits Business earlier this month, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association said the industry needed greater clarity about the scheme. He also cautioned that a delayed but successful DRS would be far more beneficial than a rushed DRS that would fail.

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