UK ‘demanding’ glass bottles removed from Scottish deposit return, Yousaf says
Mr Yousaf revealed he had received a letter from Westminster late on Friday “demanding” glass bottles not be included in the environmental initiative.
It comes after he insisted it would be a “democratic outrage” for the UK Government to only allow DRS to go ahead without glass.
Regulations passed by Holyrood mean glass bottles, as well as plastic bottles and drinks cans, are currently included in the Scottish Government’s proposed scheme.
As the initiative is to come into force in March 2024, significantly ahead of the 2025 start date planned for deposit return schemes in the rest of the UK, an exemption is needed from the UK Internal Market Act – which was brought in by Westminster to ensure smooth trade between the four nations of the UK in the wake of Brexit.
All but six of the 51 deposit return schemes operating elsewhere in the world include glass, the Scottish Government said – adding that forcing Scotland to remove it from its scheme would mean recycling rates for glass bottles remain at an “unacceptable” 63%.
Mr Yousaf tweeted he had only received correspondence from Westminster on Friday night – after a day of speculation the UK Government would only allow the Scottish scheme to go ahead if glass is excluded from it.
The First Minister said: “After spending the day briefing the press, UK Government sent us a letter at 9.45pm tonight.
“The letter demanding we remove glass from DRS, despite the Scottish Parliament voting for regulations which include glass in the scheme.
“That’s your respect agenda for you right there.”
Deposit return schemes planned for England and Northern Ireland do not currently include glass bottles.
In light of the UK Government’s stance, the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) said the “only viable option now” was for a UK-wide initiative to be launched across all four nations in 2025.
Gavin Pennington, of the BSDA, said its members had “long supported the introduction of an industry-led, interoperable DRS run on a not-for-profit basis to help support a circular economy, reducing litter and increasing recycling”.
He stated: “Our members have made significant investments of money, resource and time since 2019 to prepare for the launch of DRS Scotland.
“However, given the level of political uncertainty currently surrounding DRS Scotland, surely the only viable option now is for all stakeholders to commit to launching DRS across the UK on the same timeframe, October 2025.”