Deposit return scheme company folded with debts of £86m, documents show

Circularity Scotland called in administrators in June following the latest delay to the scheme.

Scotland’s deposit return scheme company folded with debts of £86m, documents show PA Media

The company set up to administer Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) had debts and liabilities of more than £86m when it fell into administration.

Circularity Scotland, a not-for-profit company funded by the drinks industry, called in administrators in June.

Companies House documents, reported in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, show it had liabilities £86.2 million and assets of £2.1m.

Some 66 staff lost their jobs when the company folded, following the decision to delay the DRS until at least October 2025 in order to bring it in line with a planned date for a UK-wide scheme.

Maurice Golden said the deposit return scheme had been a ‘catastrophe’.PA Media

The Scottish Government blamed Westminster’s refusal to allow glass in the scheme for the latest delay, accusing the Conservatives of sinking Scotland’s DRS and undermining devolution.

However, the UK Government said the delay was entirely the decision of ministers in Edinburgh, who failed to design the scheme properly.

The Companies House documents show that Biffa is the largest creditor with a liability of £65m.

The company was contracted to provide logistics for the DRS.

Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “We knew the handling of the deposit return scheme had been a catastrophe, but these staggering sums make the scale of the disaster apparent.

“The most appalling thing is the scheme’s principles had general support, and it is only the astonishingly inept way Lorna Slater introduced the legislation, refusing to listen to any concerns or warnings, that led to it falling apart. Now hundreds of firms are paying the price.

“Yet, while others have lost their jobs thanks to the Green minister’s incompetence and obstinacy, she – incredibly – is still in her post.

“If the Scottish Government gets involved in financial recovery, who knows where that money will come from, other than the taxpayer.”

The Scottish Government said it would not cover the debts.PA Media

The Scottish Government said Circularity Scotland was always intended to be industry-led and it would not be covering the debts.

A spokesman said: “The UK Government’s 11th-hour intervention has left us no choice but to postpone the launch of Scotland’s deposit return scheme and the overwhelming feedback from businesses was they could not prepare for a March 2024 launch.

“We are grateful to businesses for the investment they have made.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to the delivery of a successful deposit return scheme and the investment made to date can be utilised in the future.

“We do not consider that the action we have been required to take gives rise to any obligation to pay compensation.”

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