Greenpeace has hit out at the “shambolic” delay to the deposit return scheme, describing it as “embarrassing” for the Scottish Government.
It comes after Scottish Green minister Lorna Slater told MSPs that a new date for the launch of the scheme would be announced “in due course”.
Slater, who is minister for the circular economy, provided an update on the scheme at Holyrood on Wednesday.
She insisted the Scottish Government remains “fully committed” to the plans, which would see shoppers pay 20p for drinks in cans and bottles, with the money returned to them when they return the empty containers for recycling.
The scheme had been due to launch in April 2021, but the delays have been attributed to a combination of the Covid pandemic, Brexit, and issues over VAT which have to be resolved with the UK Treasury.
However, Nina Schrank, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, questioned the decision of the Scottish Government to delay the scheme.
“This shambolic delay to the long awaited deposit return scheme is embarrassing for a government which loves to shout about its green credentials,” she said.
“They haven’t even given a clear timeline for any delay, which might even put the future of this vital scheme into doubt.
“Every year of delay means millions more bottles being dumped or burned. The deposit return scheme was a flagship environmental policy for the Scottish government, and they’ve kicked the can down the road yet again.
“The public shouldn’t let the Cambo announcement today, significant as it was, hide the fact that this Scottish government is delaying urgently needed environmental action once again.
“Deposit return schemes work, that’s been proven elsewhere, so why on earth is the Scottish government choosing to delay?”
Scottish Labour’s environment spokesperson Mercedes Villalba accused the SNP and Scottish Greens of being happy to “backslide” on their environmental commitments.
She said: “That this delay is indefinite demonstrates how low down the government’s agenda this vital legislation is.
“It’s all too clear that a combination of caving to lobbyists and a lack of political will has caused this delay.
“The SNP and the Scottish Greens are all too happy to backslide on their environmental commitments time and time again – the people of Scotland and our planet deserve better.”
At the Scottish Parliament, Slater said the Government is “committed to the scheme being operational as soon as practically possible” as she told how she was “working hard” with those involved to “agree a final timescale and clear milestones for delivery”.
Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “The SNP-Green Government have a dismal environmental record, after missing targets three years on the trot.
“They must get their act together or the Deposit Return Scheme will be added to the litany of failure.”