Plastic bottles recycling

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The UK government has given the Scottish government permission to launch its deposit return scheme (DRS) ahead of schemes in England Wales and Northern Ireland, but only if glass containers are excluded from it.

A policy statement released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities noted: “The proposals put forward by the Scottish Government will impact thousands of businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as those based in Scotland.”

It added that the interoperability of schemes across the UK was crucial to avoid barriers to trade, but added that these considerations had to be taken into account alongside the UK government and Scottish government’s shared objectives to reduce and manage waste.

It said it would give clearance for the Scottish DRS scheme to launch next year, ahead of the schemes planned for the rest of the UK, but only for containers made from PET plastic, and aluminium and steel cans.

Giving the reasoning for excluding glass it said: “The inclusion of glass would add cost and complexity to the schemes in particular to hospitality and retail sectors, as well as adding consumer inconvenience.”

The Scottish DRS scheme is currently scheduled to be launched on March 1 next year.

Responding to the announcement, the Fed’s national deputy vice president Mo Razzaq said: “The Federation of Independent Retailers welcomes the proposal of a joined-up scheme for the UK as this is undoubtedly more practical for businesses and consumers alike.

“If glass is ultimately exempt from the Scottish scheme, it is vitally important that an alternative measure is introduced to ensure litter decreases and more bottles are reused. There is clearly headroom for improvement in Scotland’s current level of success in reaching targets to curb waste of the earth’s resources.

“If, in the end, the Scottish scheme omits glass, it is important that independent retailers who took out leasing contracts for complex machines to handle returned containers including glass, are compensated for their losses.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are supportive of the introduction of deposit return schemes across the UK and have been working hard to help our members prepare for DRS to go live in Scotland, producing comprehensive guidance. The announcement of the exclusion of glass from DRS in Scotland is welcome news for many local shops that were concerned about asking their store colleagues to handle and store glass that could be broken or soiled”

“We now need clarity from governments across the UK how they plan to implement DRS so we can prepare. The best outcome for local shops and our supply chain partners would be for an aligned introduction of DRS across the UK”