Humza Yousaf has said it is “extremely difficult” to see the Scottish deposit return scheme (DRS) going ahead without the inclusion of glass.
The First Minister said the UK Government’s decision to exclude the material from the flagship recycling programme presented an “existential threat” to its rollout.
It came hours before the deadline set for Rishi Sunak’s government to revoke its conditions for the Scottish scheme after enforcing the Internal Markets Act to block it.
Speaking at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Edinburgh, Yousaf said it was unlikely the policy would go ahead if glass is excluded, though added he would give the his UK counterparts “until the last minute” to reach a decision.
“I’m not prepared to put Scottish business at a competitive disadvantage and excluding glass from the scheme does that,” he told STV News.
“That’s why I have asked the UK Government to respond favourably to granting a full exemption, but we haven’t heard from them, so that puts the scheme in danger.
“I would like to hear from then by close of play today, but if there is a change of mind at the eleventh hour because they have listened, not to me, listened to Scottish businesses, that would be great.”
He added: “If that doesn’t happen, the cabinet would need to have a discussion about whether the DRS can go ahead at all.”
Yousaf added “wholly inaccurate” claims by Scottish secretary Alister Jack about the glass recycling element of the proposals jeopardised £10m in investment after it was claimed the Scottish version would crush glass to be used as aggregate for roads.
That was disputed by Circularity Scotland, the body charged with operating the scheme.
Yousaf said, regardless of the decision reached, he was frustrated by Westminster’s attempts to “undermine devolution”.
“It could be an existential issue for the DRS. But what I’m not prepared to do is put Scottish businesses, jobs, investment at risk because of a unilateral last minute decision by the UK Government,” he added.
“It didn’t have to be this way, the DRS regulations which included glass in the scheme, were passed by the Scottish Parliament.
“There was absolutely no need for the UK Government to undermine devolution and put this scheme at risk.”