Gordon Balmer

PRA executive director Gordon Balmer

The PRA has expressed concerns over Scotland’s Bottle Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in a letter to the circular economy minister Lorna Slater.

After months of uncertainty the minister announced that the scheme would be delayed until 2025 at the earliest.

PRA executive director Gordon Balmer said: “The uncertainty surrounding the Bottle Deposit Return Scheme is undermining the investment made by our members.

“We recognise the potential environmental benefits of a properly implemented DRS scheme but urge against burdening our members with additional expenses for a scheme that lacks approval.

“Our members have already invested significant resources based on Holyrood’s direction and are already impacted by the rising costs; therefore, we have asked the minister for transparency regarding the ongoing conversations with Westminster and certainty whether the scheme will be implemented as planned.”

He added: “We are open to meeting with the minister or the relevant authorities to address concerns and explore viable solutions.”

Meanwhile Scotlands first minister Humza Yousaf has been slammed by retailers’ representatives after claiming in a TV interview that there is “no case” for compensation over the DRS.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Yousaf said: “We don’t believe there’s a case for the Scottish government to need to compensate because the action we’ve had to take is because of that 11th hour, last minute intervention from the UK government, which has meant that a Scottish scheme unfortunately isn’t viable.”

But the Fed’s national deputy vice president Mo Razzaq responded: “How can the Scottish government claim that there is no case to answer? It told us repeatedly to get ready for this scheme. Shopkeepers who took out leasing contracts are paying almost £4,000 a year for now redundant machines to process returned bottles and cans.

“Some retailers have also paid thousands for structures to house the machines outside or shop fitting to accommodate them inside. This is money they can ill afford. The number of store closures in towns and villages across Scotland confirms small shops have a fragile economic existence.

“The Scottish government’s claim to seek an improved relationship with business, will have faint credibility if it seeks to evade paying compensation.”

Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) chief Pete Cheema agreed, saying: “Compensation will be required for businesses who will have made significant investment decisions and signed up to contracted commitments based on glass being an in-scope material and then there are the costs associated with the further delay to scheme implementation. The Scottish government must address this issue as a matter of urgency.”