Delay to UK deposit return scheme branded ‘extremely disappointing’

Scottish Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan hit out after Defra confirmed the scheme should now start in October 2027.

Delay to UK deposit return scheme branded ‘extremely disappointing’ by McAllan STV News

Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary has said a decision to delay the introduction of a deposit return scheme across the UK by two years is “extremely disappointing” but “unsurprising”.

Mairi McAllan spoke out after the UK Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it – together with the Scottish and Welsh governments and Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) – had “agreed to a revised timeline” to launch a deposit return scheme (DRS) in October 2027.

It had previously been hoped such a scheme, where shoppers are charged a deposit when buying drinks in cans and bottles which is then returned to them when they bring the empty container back for recycling, could have been up and running by October 2025.

Holyrood ministers had previously planned to bring in a Scotland-only version of the scheme in 2023 but were forced to change their plans when the UK Government ruled glass bottles could not be included as part of it.

Defra minister Robbie Moore said on Thursday that launching DRS in October 2025 had always been a “stretching target date”.

He added that “additional time will be needed to efficiently and effectively roll out the schemes across the UK”.

Mr Moore said: “With the agreement of ministerial colleagues across the devolved administrations, the DRS will go live in October 2027.”

Ms McAllan said this delay to the scheme showed how being in the UK was “holding Scotland back in tackling the climate emergency”.

The Scottish Net Zero Secretary said: “It’s extremely disappointing but perhaps unsurprising that the UK Government has failed to make progress and is delaying the UK-wide deposit return scheme (DRS) even further to October 2027.

“This comes less than a year after their inexplicable, last-minute intervention prevented Scotland’s scheme from launching.”

Ms McAllan continued: “Deposit return schemes have been shown across Europe to reduce litter, cut emissions and build a greener and more circular economy. Scotland would be enjoying these benefits by now if it wasn’t for the UK Government’s reckless actions.

“Indeed, just recently, independent and successful Ireland launched a similar scheme. This is a clear example of where the UK is holding Scotland back in tackling the climate emergency.”

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