Scotland’s first minister has accused the UK government of putting the deposit return system (DRS) in “grave jeopardy” and called for the conditions that effectively ban glass to be lifted.
British ministers wrote to the Scottish Government last week granting a partial derogation from the Internal Market Act that would exclude glass containers from the DRS – due to come into force in Scotland in March next year.
On Saturday, Mr Yousaf wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, calling for a rethink and citing the concerns of one of Scotland’s largest brewers.
“The removal of glass fundamentally jeopardizes the viability of Scottish DRS and results in reduced revenue for the system manager,” he wrote.
“The removal of glass will also have a significant impact on the business.
“For example, the C&C Group – owners of iconic brand Tennent’s – have made it clear that the UK government’s decision to phase out glass is putting investment and jobs at risk.
“Other Scottish companies have privately raised similar concerns with us.”
The decision sparked another constitutional row between Edinburgh and London, with the First Minister saying: “The decision has far wider ramifications.”
“This intervention by the UK government at such a late stage shows a significant erosion of the decentralization arrangement.”
“I urge you to withdraw the conditions set out in your letter and grant a full disqualification for Scotland’s DRS, which must be implemented under rules agreed by the Scottish Parliament in this area of devolved jurisdiction.
There is little doubt that your Government’s actions have put the future of DRS in grave jeopardy not only in Scotland but also in the rest of the UK
“Without this, the Scottish Government is unwilling to put Scottish companies at a competitive disadvantage as a result of the UK Government’s last-minute demands.”
“There is little doubt that your Government’s actions have put the future of DRS in grave jeopardy not only in Scotland but also in the rest of the UK due to loss of consumer and investor confidence.”
Another condition placed on the system was to ensure “interoperability” between the Scottish version and the anticipated English DRS, which is scheduled to be rolled out in October 2025.
The First Minister acknowledged that the systems’ ability to work together to the extent possible was “desirable”, but added that the UK Government was “unable to provide the operational details needed to ensure the interoperability of the to enable systems”, since this is still at such an early stage.
“Businesses need certainty, and they need it now – not two years from now, when the UK Government’s program may and hopefully kicks off,” he added.
“The UK Government has significantly undermined the clarity and certainty that businesses are unanimously telling us they need.”
The First Minister asked Downing Street for a reply by Monday to allow the issue to be discussed in the Scottish Cabinet the next day and updated by Holyrood.
The Scotland office said it would respond to the First Minister’s letter in due course, and a spokeswoman added: “The Government remains steadfast in its commitment to improving the environment while protecting the UK’s internal market.”
“The beverage industry has raised concerns that the Scottish Government’s DRS is diverging from plans in the rest of the UK, leading to the Scottish Government reviewing and pausing its system earlier in the year.
“We have listened to those concerns and that is why we agreed to the Scottish Government’s request for a temporary and limited exclusion from the UK Internal Market (UKIM) to ensure the Scottish Government’s system is consistent with the planned systems for the rest of the UK.
“Deposit return schemes need to be consistent across the UK and this is the best way to provide a simple and effective system.
“A system with the same rules across the UK will increase recycling collection rates and reduce waste – while minimizing disruption to the beverage industry and ensuring simplicity for consumers.”
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/scottish-government-drs-uk-government-rishi-sunak-first-minister-b1085369.html According to Yousaf, the UK government is putting the deposit return scheme “in grave jeopardy”.