SNP’s hated bottle return scheme could cripple 92 per cent of drink producers

Businesses are at risk of going bust or taking their business elsewhere unless Green Minister Lorna Slater changes the policy.

Smaller brands could disappear from our shelves say industry experts
Smaller brands could disappear from our shelves say industry experts.

By Lucy Ashton

The SNP’s flagship deposit return scheme will see nine of ten drinks products on shelves disappear according to fresh research.

As many as 92 per cent of drink producers will see the “viability” of their businesses compromised by the recycling initiative with an industry worker saying it will result in an instant drop in consumer choice.

Data from Scotland Food and Drink was shown to Ministers and revealed through a Freedom of Information release, in line with the publicised consensus of almost all sellers and producers who back an environmental initiative but say the scheme falls drastically short.

Under the deposit return scheme to be introduced in August, shops, restaurants and bars will have to install “backwards” vending machines so people who buy bottles or cans of drink can return the containers for processing.

Scots will pay an additional deposit fee of 20p per glass or plastic bottle or can they buy, which will be given back to them if they dispose of them correctly.

Scotland Food and Drink asked 55 of its producer members about the DRS, including whether it is “a genuine risk to the ongoing viability of your business”, to which 92 per cent of respondents answered “yes”. The report said: “There is no doubt that the scheme needs to be adapted to protect smaller producers more than it does currently.”

Businesses have until February 28 to register all of their bottles that are expected to have bar codes- already an issue for small batch wine producers who very often never have a barcode- and to pay initial costs that present a cash flow problem for many small businesses.

One contributor said: “The cost pressures, time pressures and the scheme as it is designed mean that we feel it is very likely to mean our business will fail as a result of the scheme.”

Some warned it would lead to drinks producers sending more goods to England to avoid the extra bureaucracy and expense- a sentiment echoed by fears there will be a trade barrier between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Nathan Burrough fears the DRS will cost his family firm £55,000 a year in administration fees alone. Under the initiative, every glass bottle they sells will cost the company 5.5p. This year it is aiming for a million sales, which would cost it an extra £55,000.

Mr Burrough said: “I can see a situation where we’re going to have to close the business down through no fault of our own.”

Blair Bowman, a whisky entrepreneur and leading industry advocate said there would likely be an overnight drop in consumer product choice owing to both the unfeasible payments, the lack of awareness both in Scotland and abroad and the lack of communication from the minister in charge.

He said: “I think large supply chains, large producers, well-known big beer brands like Heineken will be up to speed on this and have been working on this for years because they’ve got the resources to do that. But that’s all we’ll be left with.”

Documents obtained by the Daily Mail show Nationalist MPs and MSPs highlighting constituents’ concerns about the scheme to Green Minister Lorna Slater.

Lisa Cameron, Annabelle Ewing, Fiona Hyslop and Mairi Gougeon have written to Ms Slater for assurance or clarification on the issue. Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “Businesses are extremely worried about the farcical implementation of the deposit return scheme by the SNP and Greens. Now we learn even SNP MPs and MSPs have grave concerns about its impacts.

“Her [Ms Slater’s] scheme is a complete mess.”

David Harris, chief executive of Circularity Scotland, the administrator of the DRS, said changes’ had been made since the survey was published in December.

He said: “As a result, we’ve been able to reduce the forecast producer fees by up to 40 per cent.”

Top picture: The “bottle bank” at St James’s Retail Park in Dumbarton where there is a dispute about whose responsibility it is to keep the place clean there.

One comment

  1. On our doorstep at Auchencarroch landfill site we have the outrage of Barr Environmental Ltd being pursued by Revenue Scotland for £99 million in avoided landfill. Tax.

    Seems they were using grey bin waste to crest the walls between the cell pits and under roads and not classifying it as waste.

    But aside of the tax avoidance what of the environmental impact. The cell pits are all lined and the tops hermetically sealed to prevent toxic leaching.

    Additionally is bin waste suitable as a structural wall material.

    Good questions especially since a huge side of the Auchcarroch tip hillside has recently slipped exposing the underlying tip strata.

    What toxic leachate there?

    Maybe our local Greens as they pursue putting small firms to the wall would maybe consider what’s been going on in their own back yard.

    Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste wrongly classified, £99 million landfill tax avoided a proportion of which would be hypothecated to green causes, and a huge landslip disaster in the National Park – and not a cheep.

    Come away Patrick Harvey and Ross Greer. Had the cat got your tongues.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: