Scottish Wholesale Association welcomes DRS delay

News that the roll out of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has been delayed by a year has been welcomed by the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA).

The move to shift the scheme’s launch from April 2021 to July 2022 has been made as wholesalers across Scotland are all hands to the pump as they aim to get a handle on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Rosanna Cunningham MSP, said extending the go-live date will “give businesses more time to prepare their premises for the scheme and crucially, provides flexibility in the immediate term as the whole country prepares to deal with Covid-19 – the impact of which continues to be closely monitored”.

The acknowledgement of the strains being placed upon Scottish wholesalers to achieve the date in 2021 is music to the ears of SWA Chief Executive Colin Smith, although pointed out the debate has arisen again at a time that’s not ideal.

“Our members and their customers are working around the clock to cope with the challenges presented by the most serious health and economic crisis since the Second World War,” Smith said.

“At this critical time when retailers and hospitality businesses are facing considerable uncertainty over the future viability of their businesses and trying to do their best for their customers and staff, it seems strange the Scottish government would choose now to publish the regulations.”

The DRS scheme will include plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), aluminium and steel cans, and glass bottles. Under the scheme, a 20p deposit will be applied each time one of those single-use drinks containers is sold.

Retailers can choose to install reverse vending machines (RVMs) to collect empty containers, or collect the containers manually over the counter. Non-retail spaces will also be able to act as return locations.

They can apply for exemption from 1 January 2021, which the regulations state will “afford retailers sufficient time to seek any exemptions prior to the scheme becoming fully operational”.

As plans stand, DRS will be rolled out in Scotland first before being extended across the rest of the UK.

Colin Smith coronavirus covid-19 DRS recycling Scotland SWA Wholesalers