DRS debt

Millions still owed after failed recycling scheme

DRS collection point at Aldi - deposit return
An Aldi collection point which has never been used (pic: Terry Murden)

Companies are likely to get only a fraction of more than £70 million they are estimated to be owed from the SNP and Green government’s collapsed flagship recycling initiative.

The deposit return scheme (DRS) was shutdown last June after months of complaints from businesses that it would not work and after they spent millions setting up systems and hiring staff to manage it.

Among the creditors is the state-owned Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) which so far has received only £1m of the £9m it had lent to the scheme’s administrator Circularity Scotland which was put into administration.

The waste management specialist Biffa, which set up processing depots and order collection vehicles, is said to be owed £65m. A German software firm, Reverse Logistics, has an unpaid bill of £5m.

Law firm Addleshaw Goddard, the property developer Ambassador Group, and recruitment agency Head Resourcing are among those due six-figure payments. Brewers, soft drinks firms such as AG Barr, and scores of retailers and convenience stores also spent large sums preparing for the DRS.

Papers lodged at Companies House by administration firm Interpath, unsecured creditors are likely to “receive a nominal dividend”.

Lorna Slater, the minister in charge of DRS, had hoped the initiative would encourage greater recycling of items and reduce litter by charging an a refundable 20p on cans and bottles.

But the scheme also ran into problems with Westminster which wanted to introduce a UK-wide initiative. Circularity Scotland went into insolvency a few weeks later with the loss of dozens of jobs.

A spokesman for the Scottish government told The Times: “The administration process is a matter for [Circularity Scotland’s] board and its administrators.”

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