Joint letter

Drinks firms will not fund Circularity Scotland

DRS collection point at Aldi
Firms have invested infrastructure such as this collection point (pic: Terry Murden)

Drinks manufacturers and retailers have delivered another blow to the Scottish Government’s chaotic bottle recycling plans by saying they will not continue funding the firm set up to administer it.

The British Beer and Pub Association, the British Soft Drinks Association and the Scottish Retail Consortium said “political uncertainty” had thrown the future of Circularity Scotland into doubt.

The statement follows the decision by Circularity Scotland to send its staff home with no certainty they will be paid this month, or that it can escape falling into administration.

In a joint letter, the organisations wrote: “Our members have collectively invested significant time and tens of millions of pounds in good faith to help establish a scheme administrator in Scotland to meet a deadline originally set by the Scottish government.”

They added that “a high degree of political uncertainty” had now disrupted plans and timings, putting the future of CSL at risk.

“Given this ongoing political uncertainty we don’t have the confidence required to provide further voluntary funding for the company,” they said.

“It is now a matter for the CSL board to determine how it wishes to administer the company’s affairs.”

They added that drinks producers remained committed to working with the UK and devolved governments to deliver an aligned and interoperable DRS that efficiently and effectively met the needs of UK consumers, businesses and the environment.

Circularity Scotland was set up in 2021 as a not-for-profit company to administer the scheme, funded by drinks producers.

Craig Anderson, a former managing partner of KPMG in Scotland, is the chairman, while its other directors include Sharon Brown, formerly of John Menzies and Dobbies and John Dunsmore, previously of Scottish & Newcastle and Tennent’s Lager owner C&C Group.

The DRS was due to launch in August but it has been delayed until October 2025 at the earliest after the UK government raised concerns that it was incompatible with its own planned scheme, meaning Scotland would need an exemption from the Internal Market Act.

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said of the latest development: “This statement raises enormous question marks over the future viability of Circularity Scotland, and will cause deep alarm to its employees.

“But, equally, I fully understand the position of businesses, who are not willing to continue to bankroll CS while Lorna Slater’s shambolic deposit return scheme is on hold.”

He said Ms Slater was to “blame” for the “almighty mess” and that she refused to engage with businesses who had warned her that the scheme was unworkable.

“Scottish businesses are due compensation for the heavy losses incurred due to her rank incompetence,” he added.

Comment: DRS arguably a bigger scandal than ferries

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