Get around the table, DRS administrator tells governments

The scheme is due to go live in March of next year (Jonathan Pow/PA)
The scheme is due to go live in March of next year (Jonathan Pow/PA)

The administrator of Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) has urged the UK and Scottish governments to “get round the table” to deliver the programme.

In a rare intervention, Circularity Scotland waded into the ever-deepening row between Holyrood and Westminster, with First Minister Humza Yousaf suggesting to the PA news agency on Saturday the scheme could be scrapped if the UK Government does not walk back its effective blocking of glass containers.

UK ministers issued a partial exemption to the Internal Market Act which would not include glass containers – scuppering Scottish Government plans to include the receptacles in the DRS.

The uncertainty over the scheme’s future grew when Mr Yousaf wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, setting a Monday deadline for the move to be rowed back, suggesting failure to do so would cause “grave danger” to the DRS.

In a statement seen by PA, a spokesman for the administrator said: “Circularity Scotland, our members and business and industry partners have invested around £300 million to develop a deposit return scheme and have done so at no cost to the taxpayer.

“This scheme will be ready to launch in March 2024 and will be a platform for a scaled-up and interoperable pan-UK scheme.

“We urge both governments to urgently get round the table and agree a pathway for integrated and harmonised deposit return schemes across the UK.

“Without this agreement, investment and public confidence will be seriously damaged, jeopardising credibility for investment in any future major environmental projects.”

Circularity Scotland employs 50 people, with their futures uncertain given the turmoil around the scheme, while businesses already signed up to the DRS – including some of the world’s biggest drinks companies like Heineken, Coca Cola and Diageo – employ upwards of two million.