The Scottish government is to launch an ‘independent gateway review’ into the implementation date of its deposit return scheme (DRS).
Initially planned for April 2021, the ‘go live’ date of a DRS in Scotland was last year postponed to July 2022, to allow businesses more time to prepare in light of the pandemic.
However, speaking in the Scottish parliament on Monday (8 March), the minister for rural affairs and the natural environment, Ben Macpherson, said this would now be reviewed.
Any possible further delay could bring it line with England, where the government has said it will roll out a DRS in 2023.
Mr Macpherson said: “Given the significant disruption caused to relevant sectors over the past year, we have decided to commission an independent gateway review to assess the impact of the pandemic on the go-live date for the scheme.”
He added: “The Scottish Government recognises the unique and significant pressures that Covid-19 and EU exit have placed on industry over the past year, including the businesses with responsibility for implementing Scotland’s DRS.”
The minister said that despite the pressures, the industry has made “good progress” towards implementing the scheme, which includes talks with a not-for-profit company, Circularity Scotland Ltd, which is seeking to operate as the DRS administrator.
“The Scottish Government recognises the unique and significant pressures that COVID-19 and EU exit have placed on industry”
“This is a significant step forward, which demonstrates the industry’s collective commitment to move ahead with the scheme,” he added.
Mr Macpherson reiterated that at the time that the DRS Regulations were passed, the Scottish Government “committed to closely” monitor the impact of the pandemic on implementation of DRS.
However, he said “given the significant disruption”, a review would be the best course of action.
Government documents describe a gateway review as one which “examines programmes and projects at key decision points in their lifecycle, and looks ahead to provide assurance that they can progress successfully to the next stage”.
The plans for the scheme were initially put forward in 2019, for an ‘all-in’ model, covering PET plastic drinks bottles, aluminium and steel can and glass bottles, with a deposit level set at 20p.
In May 2020, the Scottish government passed the DRS regulations. The move was criticised by British Glass and the Scottish Retail Consortium who both called at the time for the implementation date to be pushed back (see letsreycle.com story).
Recycling minister Rebecca Pow also recently confirmed that Defra continues to “liaise closely” with the Scottish government on the implementation of the scheme (see letsrecycle.com story).