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Scotland DRS likely delayed until 2027

The Scottish government’s deposit return scheme (DRS) is likely to be delayed by two more years, the Defra secretary of state has admitted.

DRS glass bottles
Scotland’s DRS would require consumers to pay a 20p deposit when buying a drink in a single-use container

Steve Barclay, secretary of state for the Scottish government’s department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra), was questioned about the state of the controversial scheme during a meeting yesterday afternoon (26 March). He suggested a 2027 implementation, rather than 2025, “would be more likely” when asked about the timeframe.

“I don’t think 2025 is now realistic and certainly I don’t think business would view it as a realistic deadline,” Barclay said during the meeting. “So it is an issue that is still an ongoing area of discussion within government.”

The proposal for the Scottish DRS, which was originally due to come into effect on 16 August 2023, would require consumers to pay a 20p deposit when buying a drink in a single-use container made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), glass, steel or aluminium, sized between 50ml and three litres.

Last summer, the Scottish government delayed the scheme until October 2025 ‘at the earliest’, after it was ‘sabotaged’ by the UK government, which requested that glass be excluded in line with proposals for a DRS in England and Northern Ireland.

Wales’ government is also proposing to include glass in its deposit return scheme, and when asked whether the UK government would use the same mechanism (the Internal Market Act) to encourage the Welsh to be more interoperable, Barclay affirmed “yes”.

The Internal Market Act aims to prevent internal trade barriers within the UK.

The potential start date of 2027 marks the fourth time the scheme has been postponed.

The Scottish DRS has faced a lot of backlash from ministers of the Scottish parliament (MSPs), as well as trade bodies and producers.

Circularity Scotland, the company behind the roll-out of the country’s DRS, went into administration last year.

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