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Seniors from drinks and hospitality industries demand pause to deposit return scheme

Senior figures from the drinks and hospitality industries have written to the Scottish Government to demand the pausing of its deposit return scheme (DRS) for empty bottles and cans in order to avoid what they describe as a “catastrophic impact” on businesses and its consumers.

The open letter to economy minister Lorna Slater has more than 500 signatures from industry leaders, proposing that the scheme is postponed before it begins in August 2023. They propose instead a meeting with industry bodies to design a UK-wide system in partnership with the government.

Some industry figures have warned that should Scotland move forward alone with the DRS, it would bring an end to the single market for drinks containers in the UK.

Under the current planned proposals, consumers would be charged a 20p deposit by retailers in Scotland for every purchase of a glass, plastic or metal drinks bottle, can or container which holds between 50ml and 3l.

Speaking on the subject, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Marc Crothall, said: “It is evident from the number of signatories to this letter from business’ large and small across Scotland that the DRS being proposed in the current timescale and in its current form could be the death knell for many tourism and hospitality businesses and small retailers too, which are the lifeblood of Scotland’s economy, especially in rural and remote areas.

“Introducing the scheme to all types of business in the height of summer season after two years of extremely tough trading following Brexit and Covid – not to mention rising energy prices triggering both the cost of living and cost of trading crises – makes no sense at all and does nothing to help support business as they try to recover.”

Whisky consultant and broker Blair Bowman organised the letter and commented: “If we’re to avoid the catastrophic impact of the DRS then Lorna Slater needs to press pause now and meet with our industries and the UK Government to come up with a sustainable solution that will benefit people and the planet.

“When I talk to many small businesses, they’re scared about how the DRS is going to affect their trade.”

11 November 2022 - Bradley Weir