Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme has been pushed back by at least 18 months.

Circular Economy minister Lorna Slater told Scottish parliament today that the scheme will be delayed until at least October 2025, as a consequence of the UK government’s decision not to grant the scheme a full exclusion from the Internal Market Act.

Last week, the UK government said DRS could go ahead in Scotland but without the inclusion of glass, as it looked to align the scheme with others planned in the UK.

Slater said that after consultations with businesses, including producers, ministers concluded that certainty on critical elements of the scheme would not be available for businesses until the UK Government publishes more detail.

Slater said: “As of today, it is now clear that we have been left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS, until October 2025 at the earliest based on the UK Government’s current stated aspirations.

“I remain committed to interoperable DRS schemes across the UK provided that we can work in a spirit of collaboration not imposition. I wrote again last night to the UK government, to urge ministers to reset a climate of trust and good faith to galvanise and retain the knowledge that has been built in Circularity Scotland and DRS partners in Scotland.”

David Harris, Circularity Scotland chief executive called the outcome disappointing. He said the industry was prepared for the scheme to go live in March 2024, and that a “scheme without glass is both economically viable and is an opportunity for Scotland to provide a platform for a UK-wide DRS”.

Meanwhile, the trade has welcomed the decision. Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said: “It comes as a huge relief that Scotland’s fundamentally flawed Deposit Return Scheme has been put on ice until at least October 2025, allowing for the consultation on and eventual introduction of a UK-wide scheme that excludes glass.” 

He said the trade organisation has led the charge in arguing against the inclusion of glass in any DRS scheme “on grounds it was unimplementable, would fail to achieve its aims and penalise some business and consumers”.