The deposit return scheme (DRS) has been approved by Scottish parliament in a vote yesterday (13 May) after debate that it should be paused in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Scottish conservatives spoke against the motion, under concerns that implementing the DRS too soon could add a burden to already struggling businesses due to the economic and other impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Scotland’s minster for rural affairs and natural environment Mairi Gougeon, spoke in favour of implementing the DRS in 2022.
The implementation of the scheme was already pushed back to 2022 in March, after initially being planned for April 2021, to allow businesses ‘more time’ to prepare in light of the pandemic.
Ms Gougeon, who is also SNP member Angus North and Mearns, said that Scottish businesses would continue to be “monitored closely to see if further flexibility is required” to the implementation date.
The minister added that July 2022 was the “earliest date” parliament was confident they could deliver a successful deposit return scheme.
Talking against the motion, Annie Mills of the Scottish Conservatives said: “There is no disputing that the DRS can increase recycling rates and protect our environment. The question is timing. We support delayed implementation to July 2022 in light of the virus outbreak. However Conservative don’t think it goes far enough.
“Small businesses are struggling more than ever. Many of them won’t see 2021 despite vast financial support provided by government. The business community will be responsible for making DRS work. Now is not the time to force them to scrutinise and engage with legislation adding to their burden.”
Ms Gougeon reiterated that the DRS is a “great opportunity” to create a more circular economy while reducing litter and contributing positively to the climate emergency”.
The DRS consists of an ‘all in’ model which covers plastic drinks bottles, aluminium and steel cans and glass bottles with a flat deposit of 20p.
There has been dispute surrounding the scheme with bodies such as British Glass expressing concern that it could lead to an increase in plastic use.
The Scottish government have said that the delay to 2022 would give businesses enough time to ensure “a successful scheme from day one”.