Scotland's deposit return scheme is 'bonfire of chaos' says brewery chief

The UK government has insisted the scheme in Scotland can not include glass. Credit: PA

Scotland's deposit return scheme has been a "bonfire of chaos" which was "absolute insanity for consumers", the founder of one of the country's most popular beers has said.

Dougal Sharp, founder of the Innis and Gunn Brewing Company, hit out at the Scottish Government recycling scheme on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme.

Mr Sharp described the initiative, for which circular economy minister Lorna Slater is in charge of implementing, as a "bonfire of chaos", and told the broadcaster on Friday: "It's been chaos from the outset and the chaos continues.

"Businesses are reeling with uncertainty, and no one knows where to look next for answers. It's a shambles."

Under plans outlined for Scotland, shoppers would pay a 20p deposit every time they buy a drink in a can or bottle, with that money refunded to them when the empty containers are returned for recycling.

But the future of the scheme was brought into doubt by the Scottish Government after the UK Government allowed it to go ahead but without glass bottles in the scheme.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said it could be scrapped unless the UK Government does not reverse its decision to exclude glass from the plans.

Scotland's deposit return scheme is due to begin in March 2024, with the earlier start date forcing ministers to seek an exemption from UK-wide legislation which aims to ensure there are no trade barriers between the four nations.

Mr Sharp said claims the scheme was ready to go were "utter nonsense".

"I have lived and breathed this, and its evolution, for years and I think if you talk to any of the major businesses based in Scotland - either retailers or producers - nobody actually believes that this scheme is ready to go," he said.

"It wasn't ready to go in August, it certainly won't be ready to go in March next year because there are hundreds of unanswered questions as to how this is going to work in practice."

Mr Sharp told the BBC Radio Scotland programme that, whether glass was included or not, the "price that this is going to force onto consumers is going to be significant" with "£20, £30, £40 extra on your shopping bill every week" of which customers would not get all of it back.

"Whether or not Westminster's intervention is helpful or unhelpful, as it stands or as it was drafted, the scheme is absolute insanity for consumers and, actually, will lead to potentially less recycling rather than more in Scotland which I find absurd."

Last week, the UK Government agreed the temporary extension from the Internal Market Act, but insisted the Scottish scheme cannot include glass so it matches the initiative in England, which is due to begin in 2025.

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