Breathing room on DRS scheme

CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce a deposit return scheme to Scotland are not expected to materialise any time soon, and possibly not at all, Scottish Government cabinet secretary for the environment Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed.

Cabinet secretary Roseanna Cunningham acknowledged retailers’ concerns.

Speaking at the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform committee at the Scottish Parliament, Cunningham said any future DRS scheme would be included in a proposed circular economy bill, currently scheduled “towards the end of this parliamentary session”, which is expected to run until spring 2021. “We’re not under immediate pressure in terms of legislation,” she said.

Answering a question from Richard Lyle MSP, a former retailer of 14 years and member of the Cross Party Group on Independent Convenience Stores, Cunningham acknowledged that there is a “big debate” around DRS and noted the concerns raised by retailers.

“There’s a lot of complex issues to be considered here and I think we’ve done the right thing by ensuring we speak to as wide a group as possible and really think through the implications of this,” said Cunningham.

“I think from what I can see the sub-group on deposit return schemes was very useful, but I think it pretty much highlighted how complex this is and how right we are not to simply jump to an immediate answer without thinking through the implications, including for small corner grocers who neither have the space or the staff or the infrastructure to deal with some of this.”

Cunningham’s comments came ahead of the final stakeholder meeting on DRS, and she said her department would wish to “explore every single option” before making a decision.
Dennis Williams, president of the Scottish Grocers Federation, said he continues to oppose DRS due to the complexities involved.

“I’m against it because I can’t get my head around the practicalities. Where would we keep returns? And if they’re not clean that creates a health issue too,” he said.
“I think there’s a lot of questions to be answered on DRS. I’m against it. I think it’s a great idea but the practicalities, I think, would be very difficult to work out.”