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Slater forced to draw up new recycling plan

Lorna Slater: the scheme passed by this parliament has been ‘shot down’

Scotland’s Circularity Minister Lorna Slater has admitted the deposit return scheme cannot go ahead as planned and an alternative is now under consideration.

She claimed the planned DRS had been “shot down” by the UK Government after its “eleventh hour” decision to demand that glass be excluded from the scheme.

Ms Slater told the parliament that meant “the deposit return scheme passed by this parliament cannot go ahead as planned” and that ministers are “urgently establishing to what extent there is a way forward for a modified scheme.

This will depend on the UK Government providing assurances on key operational matters and how much support an alternative scheme will have with industry.

She said she was writing to the UK Government for clarification on issues such as trading standards and will update parliament in due course. A meeting will be held between Ms Slater, the First Minister and industry tomorrow.

Tory MSP Liam Kerr said Circularity Scotland, the scheme’s administrator, had said today that the scheme could go ahead with glass, whereas the First Minister said that removing glass threatens the viability of the scheme.

“They can’t both be right,” he said. “So who doesn’t know what they are talking about, the First Minister or CSL?”

Ms Slater avoided the question and instead focused on the Conservatives’ previous commitment to including glass.

Mr Kerr asked why the minister preferred picking a fight with Westminster rather than collaborate and cooperate.

Ms Slater replied that the Secretary of State Alister Jack misrepresented the intended use of the glass and the process agreed and had done everything he could to undermine the scheme.

She said: “Myself and Circularity Scotland are looking at how we can take an alternative scheme forward because the one that this parliament passed has been shot down by Westminster.”

Federation of Small Businesses Scotland policy chair, Andrew McRae, said: “This was a well-intentioned, but fundamentally flawed, scheme.  As time went on, it became apparent it wasn’t going to work in its current form and was going to damage small producers and retailers on its way down.

“The questions we’ve been raising since 2018 about cost, space and time are still the issues troubling small businesses and there didn’t seem to be a clear route to address them.

“While many will feel relieved that this latest uncertainty has now, to an extent, been ended, we now need to get on with developing a system that stands a better chance of working – one that makes it as easy as possible for consumers, producers and retailers.

“Key to that will be learning the lessons from this episode and bringing the sort of small businesses, on whom government will be relying to deliver any such scheme, in on the ground floor.”

Innis & Gunn founder Dougal Sharp has written to the First Minister repeating his suggestion that the government adopts a scheme similar to the carrier bag charge to add 4p or 5p to each recyclable item at the tills.

He said that the proposed scheme – now ditched – would have meant all costs would be passed on to the consumer. Mr Sharp has offered to meet the First Minister to discuss his ideas.

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