Small producers in Scotland do not have the means to meet the current deadlines for the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), according to a group of trade associations.
The Scottish Wholesale Association, the Society of Independent Brewers, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whisky Association and Scotland Food & Drink have warned that without changes by the government to give small producers a legal grace period, where they can opt into the scheme, many products “will no longer be available in Scotland from August 16 and prices will substantially increase”.
In an open letter to the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater, the trade groups highlighted the continued lack of clarity on how the scheme will work and the action that small producers need to take to prepare.
The letter called on Slater to introduce an 18-month grace period in the regulations and that without action small businesses will be “disproportionately impacted by the scheme’s requirements”.
In a joint statement, the trade associations said: “There are now only a few weeks left to save thousands of small producers that will be banned from selling bottles and cans in Scotland from August. They lack the finances and resources to meet the scheme’s requirements on time and need an 18-month legal grace period in the regulations and the option to opt in.
“Without this certainty it’s likely that consumers will lose out through reduced consumer choice and increased prices.”
Scottish Wholesale Association chief executive Colin Smith said a grace period will allow small producers to overcome the challenges they face in preparation for DRS “because there remain fundamental unanswered questions on key issues such as VAT, price-marked packs, IT system requirements, and what happens to stock in bonded warehouses”.
Producers have until March 1 to register their products for the sceme.