Scottish DRS delayed again until March 2024

Scotland’s deposit return scheme will now be implemented on 1 March 2024 rather than August this year, the country’s First Minister Humza Yousaf announced today (18 April).

The Scottish Parliament (picture: Shutterstock)

The announcement of a delay to the DRS came in from Mr Yousaf in his first major statement to the Scottish parliament, which focused on the themes of equality, opportunity and community.

Mr Yousaf described the delay as an “extension of the deposit return scheme launch date to March 2024, from August this year”. The Scottish DRS has already been delayed from the original go live date of July 2022.

Internal market

The delay comes in the face of uncertainty about whether the UK government would give approval under the Internal Market regime for the Scottish DRS in time for it to go ahead on 16 August 2023 as planned.

And, there is also a strong view among ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that it would make more sense for Scotland’s DRS to start at the same as the one planned for the rest of the UK. This is due to be implemented in 2025 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Many in the sector are now expected to consider that the Scottish government will come under even more pressure to delay its own DRS regime until 2025 so that one scheme can operate from the same time across the UK. There is also pressure on the Scottish government from drinks producers in Scotland over the policy as a whole.

Waste sector

Biffa is developing a warehouse in Motherwell for its DRS work

The delay to the Scottish scheme is also likely to be of some concern to Biffa which is the official delivery partner to the organisation which will run the DRS scheme in Scotland, Circularity Scotland.

Biffa has announced that it is investing more than £80m to develop the infrastructure needed to deliver the scheme, including the £6m transformation of a former parcel depot on the Eurocentral industrial park in Motherwell.

The company had said that following the launch of DRS in August, the site would form part of a network of Biffa-run facilities across Scotland to count, sort and bale “the billions of plastic, glass and aluminium drinks containers collected through the scheme each year by the waste management company”.

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