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DRS: FOI request shows cost to date

A freedom of information (FOI) request revealed the Scottish government has spent £218,565.83 (US$270,811.81) on the country’s delayed deposit return scheme (DRS).

The DRS could be axed by the end of May, Lorna Slater said

The DRS would introduce a 20p deposit on the price of drinks in cans and bottles, which would be repaid to the consumer when they return the container to a retailer or vending machine.

Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf delayed the DRS from August 2023 to March 2024 last month, and later changes were announced including removing miniature bottles from the scheme. Furthermore, producers that sell fewer than 5,000 units annually will now be exempt.

The initiative has faced fierce opposition from companies across Scotland due to concerns about rising costs and the effectiveness of encouraging recycling.

Since 2018, the Scottish government has spent £218,565.83 on costs including consultation, publication of regulations and associated documents, evaluations, independent reviews and assurance.

The FOI request also noted that funding for the Scottish Environment Protective Agency, and Zero Waste Scotland in their role implementing DRS is agreed between the two organisations and the Scottish government as part of the annual budget process. It added that no funding has been allocated to Circularity Scotland to date.

Concerns around viability of DRS

Last week, Lorna Slater, Scotland’s circular economy minister, suggested the DRS could be scrapped if it did not get the go ahead from Westminster. The UK government is considering whether the scheme can be exempted from the Internal Market Act.

Speaking at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation’s Mini Summit last week (18 May), Slater said: “I was told I would get it on the 17th April. So, 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 scheme is viable or not to move forward.

“By the end of May, we’ll know one way or the other.”

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