Slater to meet small firms over DRS concerns
Scottish Circularity minister Lorna Slater yesterday resisted calls to delay her controversial bottle recycling scheme but will hold a further meeting with small firms today to consider their concerns.
Ms Slater was subjected to a volley of criticism in parliament as MSPs, including an SNP member, said there were many unanswered questions about how the deposit return scheme would operate. Small firms have warned that the costs involved could put them out of business.
Jamie Greene, from the Scottish Conservatives, said the Glasgow brewer Simple Things Fermentation, described the “badly flawed DRS” as “catastrophic” for his company and the craft beer sector.
Fellow Tory Annie Wells declared: “This is a shambles of a scheme,” while SNP member Christine Grahame said the Traquair House brewery in Innerleithen had told Ms Slater that the DRS would have a “devastating” effect on its business.
The drinks sector in particular has warned that a number of issues around collection times, storage and security, bonded warehouses and hybrid hospitality venues remain areas of concern.
Producers must sign an agreement by the end of this month or run the risk of not being able to sell their goods in Scotland.
Under the DRS proposals an extra 20p will be charged for single use drinks containers with the amount refunded at designated return points.
Ms Slater said similar schemes operated in other countries and repeatedly told MSPs that the scheme administrator Circularity Scotland had this week provided a support package worth £22 million to help smaller firms with cashflow concerns. It also introduced simpler rules on labelling.
She said: “I take the concerns of small businesses very seriously.” She added: “I am taking a pragmatic approach to identify challenges and solutions.”
Maurice Golden said: “The SNP-Green government finds itself in an almighty mess of its own creation. Their latest Gateway Review concluded that ‘a fully functioning and compliant DRS cannot be in operation for the revised August 2023 schedule’.
“They’ve already had to postpone and scale back the online take back policy, but they’re determined to rush the scheme through regardless. Despite belated concessions, where is the support for small retailers and hospitality?”
Ms Slater accused Mr Golden of “inaccuracies and misinformation” and reminded MSPs that she would be meeting industry representatives.
But Colin Smith for Labour said: ” We don’t just want the minister to meet businesses but to listen.”