The Scottish Government have confirmed that they will be delaying the introduction of its planned deposit return scheme until July 2022.

The updated regulations, published today (March 16th), set out the revised timescale for the introduction of the scheme alongside other operational details.

From July 2022, consumers will have to pay a 20p deposit on single-use drinks containers made of PET plastic, steel, aluminium or glass, which they then get back when they return the container to their local shop or other return point.

In an accompanying statement to the regulations, also published today, the Scottish Government state that they are introducing an amendment to allow an exemption to be granted where it is not possible or reasonable to operate a return point on a retail premises without significant risk that the retailer would in consequence be in breach of legal requirements relating to the following areas:

• Food safety
• Health and safety
• Fire safety
• Environmental protection
• Public health

Scottish Ministers will also exempt a retailer from hosting a return point if there is another return point within reasonable proximity to the premises and the operator of that return point has agreed to take back containers on their behalf.

Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) National President Stuart Reddish said “We welcome the Scottish Government’s publication of the regulations and the delayed timescale for the start of the scheme.

“We will be working with our colleagues in the Association of Convenience Stores, the Scottish Grocers Federation and with other industry stakeholders to ensure that, when implemented, the scheme works for all retailers” Mr Reddish added.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “One of the major concerns that retailers have about DRS is the risk that having to take back dirty containers poses to health and safety and to colleagues. We are keen to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that no convenience retailers are put in that position as a result of the introduction of these regulations.”

Scottish Grocers Federation Chief Executive Pete Cheema OBE said: “we welcome the fact that the exemptions process has been broadened out to take food hygiene into consideration. Given the importance of food to go in convenience stores this is a very sensible approach. However, the costs of the scheme across the board have increased by 30% since the initial business case was published – this an area of real concern to us”.

Commenting, Mo Razzaq, a member of the NFRN’s national executive committee (NEC) and a retailer in Blantyre, said: “We welcome today’s announcement that the regulations have been laid before the Scottish parliament.”

Mr Razzaq, who has led on the issue of DRS on behalf of NFRN members, continued: “This is the latest stage in a process that the NFRN has been working toward for the last three years, including as members of the Scottish Government’s Implementation Advisory Group.”

Mr Razzaq concluded: “As the details of the scheme are finalised, the NFRN will continue to work to ensure that the scheme works for all retailers.”

The regulations were initially planned to come into force in April 2021. The UK Government is planning to introduce DRS in England and Wales in 2023.

The regulations for DRS in Scotland are available to view here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/sdsi/2020/9780111044681

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