Alternative plan

Brewer offers ‘cheaper and easier’ option to DRS

Dougal Sharp beer kitchen
Dougal Sharp: DRS is ‘madness’

One of Scotland’s leading brewers has proposed a “simple” alternative for recycling bottles and cans that would be cheaper and easier to operate than the one planned by the Scottish government.

Brewers, retailers and others in the drinks chain are being forced to pay for the installation of a risky scheme with upfront costs running into millions, with some firms fearing it could put them out of business.

Its success depends on customers willing to return used bottles to recycling stations in exchange for 20p added to the cost of each item.

Dougal Sharp, founder of Innis & Gunn says: “Why not simply add 1 or 2 pence per item at the tills for all bottles, cans, jars etc. a bit like the very successful carrier bag charge?

“Using the billions that this will generate, invest in the most ambitious kerbside recycling initiative in the world, taking inspiration from real world experiences in Wales where over 90% of glass is already recovered.

“Put recycling bins across our towns and cities, on every street corner (and) in the car parks of the UK’s wonderful countryside beauty spots. Everywhere that people go, put some recycling points. 

“Make sure the bins get emptied as often as they need to be and invest behind the industries that can turn our waste streams into valuable recyclable materials that can then flow back into British industry.

“The vast majority of people want to do the right thing – so make it easier for them to do that. There are plenty of places around the world take this approach with spectacular results.”

His comments follow a series of warnings from across the drinks trade, opposition and even some SNP MSPs about the potential damage the DRS will cause.

Circularity Scotland, which will administer the scheme, this week announced the latest in a series of concessions by offering £22m to help ease the upfront costs of small firms.

But the Circularity minister Lorna Slater, who insists the DRS will go ahead in August, was today holding a further meeting with businesses who say a number of concerns remain about how the scheme will operate.

Lorna Slater
Lorna Slater was meeting businesses today

Mr Sharp, who has accused Circularity Scotland of using “extortion” to force firms such as his to bankroll the scheme, said there were easier ways to tackle the litter problem and raise the target for recycling bottles and other containers.

He said: “Scotland’s DRS aims to get to 90% recovery rates for glass, plastic and cans in the medium term. However, achieving this will be mathematically impossible because 25% of material such as glass jars, sauce bottles, food tins and cosmetics containers, are not included in the Scottish scheme.

“This means that these items risk going straight to landfill if councils withdraw their kerbside recycling after DRS, as has been promised by a growing number of local authorities around Scotland.

“Therefore the Scottish DRS can only reach 90% of 75% equalling 67.5%. We are already beyond this on glass recovery rates in Scotland. Figures from across the drinks industry are suggesting that a push in the right direction on other materials would achieve similar results. So why enact the madness of DRS with all of the costs and complexity it entails?”

He added:” “Why get to 90% the hard way when you can reach 85% or perhaps more, the easy way without the colossal risks to Scottish consumers and business that the current Scottish DRS will impose?

“And we can get on with this today, not in six months or in two years’ time for the rest of the UK. We get the urgency to act, so find a way to act now that doesn’t destroy jobs, bankrupt companies, batter consumers household budgets and strip away choice.”

Mr Sharp said the industry was already making big strides to use recyclable material and contribute to the circular society.

“I am sorry, but making our beer packaging from 100% recyclable material doesn’t feel reckless to us. Nor does our expectation that the vast majority of people will do the right thing with it afterwards and recycle it.

“The ideology of punishing responsible producers feels backward and out of step with most consumers views, and out of step with the ways that businesses are operating nowadays.

“Lorna Slater and the Green Party seem determined to constantly use ‘the stick’ irrespective of the good work that industry does. Can we not at least consider an alternative approach instead of steam rolling ahead with a Scheme that has blatant flaws as it stands and serious opposition? 

“The whole of the Scottish drinks industry view DRS as an over the top, overly complex and unworkable measure in the real world. There is cross industry support to addressing the real issues of lower-than-hoped recycling rates, creating a more circular economy and reducing littering.”

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