Scotland’s deposit return scheme delayed until late 2025

Scotland's deposit return scheme delayed until late 2025

The implementation of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has been postponed until at least October 2025.

The announcement comes in response to the UK government’s refusal to grant a full exemption from the Internal Market Act, according to Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater. The UK government placed conditions on the scheme, including the exclusion of glass and the alignment of the scheme with non-existent UK-wide schemes, causing uncertainty among businesses.

Businesses and industry bodies have welcomed the delay as producers have warned that the DRS is “not fit for purpose” in its current form. Andrew McRae, the Scotland policy chair for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), sees this delay as an opportunity for small producers and retailers to adjust their operations.

Mr McRae said: “The delay until a UK-wide scheme has taken shape will give much-needed breathing space for the small producers and retailers who have spent months wrestling with the implications of DRS for their operations.

“Now, as focus turns to what will replace the scheme, it’s critically important that we do not rush into any decisions. The issues that have plagued those small businesses on whom government will be relying to deliver and run any replacement scheme must be listened to and addressed.

“The Scottish and UK governments must work with each other and with all interested parties to ensure the successful rollout of a scheme that works for business, consumers and the environment.”

Tracy Black, director of CBI Scotland, and Dr Liz Cameron CBE, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, have both emphasised the sound motives behind the DRS but acknowledged its flaws in its current form. They called for careful planning and a focus on avoiding further delays to ensure a cost-effective and practical scheme for all, particularly for SMEs.

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