Circularity Scotland has announced a £22 million support package for Scottish drinks producers ahead of the introduction of the deposit return scheme (DRS) later this year.

Producers currently have until March 1 to register their products for the scheme. However, after smaller producers voiced concerns over the cost of the scheme, Circularity Scotland established the support package in a move to lessen impact on these producers. 

Circularity Scotland has now removed the day one and month one charges for all producers up to a threshold of three million units per year, and will also be providing two-month credit terms on deposits and fees to reduce financial strain on all producers.

David Harris, chief executive of Circularity Scotland said: “Circularity Scotland was established by industry to meet their obligations under the deposit return scheme as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. 

“We know that smaller producers in particular have been concerned about the cash flow impacts of the scheme, and these measures will address those concerns.”

Circularity Scotland has also confirmed that it will be offering the option to use self-adhesive barcode labels for smaller producers with the aim to reduce the cost of packaging alterations.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said this is a “pragmatic and simple solution to the issues raised around barcodes for smaller product lines”, adding: “This is a package that gives businesses the clarity and confidence they need to be part of Scotland’s deposit return scheme.”

Responding to the announcement, the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) praised the support package: “We’re pleased Circularity Scotland and the Scottish Government have listened to our concerns about the cash flow issues facing businesses.” 

The SWA said more measures are needed to support smaller producers, including an “18-month grace period to allow those small producers/importers to prepare for the DRS”.

“There are still too many unanswered questions for producers and importers to sign up to the DRS in a week’s time. The February 28 deadline must be shelved in writing by the Scottish government so businesses across the supply chain still have the confidence to keep trading in Scotland.”