Glass concerns for Scottish recycling plans

SWA challenge government proposal for new DRS system

The inclusion of glass within Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) could cost wholesalers money according to the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA).

SWA’s stance comes in support of British Glass’s open letter to Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, that says including glass in the scheme will “disrupt existing recycling systems” and “act against Scotland achieving its environmental ambitions”.

But SWA Chief Executive Colin Smith believes it could also create further problems for wholesalers to deliver – and has called for changes to be made to the plans before they progress further.

“We’ve consistently opposed the inclusion of glass that adds costs, health and safety concerns and logistical complexity to the supply chain for a disproportionate benefit in terms of recycling rates,” said Smith.

“If glass is included, wholesalers will see double the value of beverage containers they supply being captured by DRS. This will significantly increase cash-flow issues with the deposits being paid out upfront for all soft drinks and alcohol, while wholesalers importing wine and spirits will be particularly badly affected.

“The additional costs will inevitably flow through to retailers and to Scottish consumers who will be expected to pay more for their drinks.”

The SWA, which is part of the Implementation Advisory Group that works with the Scottish government, Zero Waste Scotland and supply chain partners to deliver DRS, is preparing a report that highlights the negative impact a Scotland-only DRS could have on the wholesale and distribution industry.

One of the key worries is that launching a DRS that is only operating north of the border could create a catalogue of issues by functioning differently to the rest of the UK.

“Scotland-only DRS will create a beverage-trade border between Scotland and England, leading to a restriction on free trade, a need for Scotland-only SKUs, increased warehousing, ICT changes and more complex trading logistics,” Smith added.

“We also believe the commencement date of spring 2021 is unachievable and the Scottish government should take time to learn the lessons from the rushed track and trace implementation on tobacco.

“SWA is clear that the Scottish government can reduce the burden on wholesalers and achieve their environmental aims by dropping glass for the DRS.”

DRS glass Government recycling Scotland SWA track and trace