BOTTLES: Call for government to think again on Deposit Return Scheme  

Robert Ryan has the bottle to challenge the the government on the Deposit Return Scheme and Green Party/SNP government minister Lorna Slater may have to resign.

By Bill Heaney

Updated on February 16, 2023, at 5pm

One green bottle scheme has accidentally fallen off the wall at the Scottish Parliament — but there are many more green bottles – and others of many colours and none – heading for the Holyrood bins if the ‘word on the street’ is to be believed.

Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today called on government ministers to deliver a statement to Parliament next week, which will sufficiently address and deal with the legitimate concerns of businesses about the Deposit Return Scheme.

The owner of one such business is Robert Ryan of the Brae Shop in Rhu, near Helensburgh, well known to most of you as a dyed in the wool fan of Dumbarton Football Club.

Robert told his many friends and customers this week: “My business is going to be seriously affected by this deposit scheme and I have still to hear how it is going to work. How are we to account for deposit money? Will we have to store empty containers? (Over 1000 per week) How can we charge part of a single standard rated item as non VAT? How are containers to be transported to the next stage in the process? Who pays for that?”
His shot at government policy didn’t hit the corner flag though when he added: “Will aluminium, plastic and glass have to be returned separately? If so, where, by whom and how? As the 20p is a returnable deposit, how is the scheme going to be funded? Will retailers have to pay the deposit at point of sale?
“If so how does that work? How many times does 20p change hands between manufacture and consumption. I have no idea. That I think puts me on a par with Lorna Slater who is presiding over this and will have to resign when the whole thing collapses round her ears. Circularity will, I predict become the new clusterf*ck.”
The Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme is due to go live from 16th August 2023. The deadline for drinks producers to register for the scheme is 28th February.

This deadline is important because when they register, producers are committing to a three-year contract, with only limited knowledge of the costs involved in the scheme. If they don’t register, they risk not being able to sell their products in Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for the scheme to be paused.

Earlier this week, industry experts told the BBC’s Sunday Show that it would be “impossible” for the scheme to be introduced in August. Drinks manufacturers have spoken out against the details of the scheme, including the potential costs and trade barriers.

Mr McArthur, pictured right, said: “The Government seems to be hell-bent on bulldozing ahead with this scheme, no matter the damage they cause in the process. They need to listen carefully to the legitimate concerns of businesses, but this just isn’t happening at the moment.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats were the first party to call for a deposit return scheme and we have repeatedly urged the Scottish Government to learn from successful schemes elsewhere in Europe.

“Over the last year, I have worked with many of the local stakeholders trying to get answers to questions they have on how this scheme will work in practice. Yet, as we approach key deadlines, there is still a lack of clarity in too many areas. Businesses cannot be expected to rush into signing up for something when there are still valid concerns about potential costs and barriers.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation carries with it the opportunity for a fresh look at the scheme. I am calling on the government to come to Parliament next week with a statement pausing the scheme, breaking down the costs that it will incur for businesses and explaining how ministers will sufficiently address the concerns of producers.”

Journalist Brian Wilson, left, had this to say in his Herald column: “There are parallels with the gender self-identification debacle. Anyone who opposed it was branded illiberal and transphobic whereas the opposite was quickly confirmed as the truth. Zealotry was the enemy of reason. All that mattered was to press on.

“With the Deposit Return Scheme, critics have been branded environmental laggards, unconcerned with the fate of the planet. Hang on, they cry in vain, we support the principle but what you are creating is unworkable. The reply is tone-deaf. There will be no turning back, to recall a phrase.

“Intrinsic to this mentality is the crucial objective of creating ‘difference’ which is common to both enterprises. Anything which can be done differently from the rest of the UK must, ipso facto, bring the bonus of potential conflict with the detested ones. ‘They’re Scotland’s bottles’ and no colonial master will tell us what to do with them.

“Sunday’s no-shows on a BBC Scotland programme which took a serious look at DRS should mark the beginning of its end. The fact nobody from the Scottish Government, nobody from Net Zero Scotland and nobody from Circularity Scotland was prepared to take part spoke louder than any words they might have uttered.”

Leave a Reply