SCOTLAND's deposit return scheme will be delayed until at least October 2025 after the UK Government refused to allow glass to be included, MSPs have been told.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater told Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon that the UK Government had given "no justification" for its decision to refuse to give an Internal Market Act (IMA) exemption for glass. 

The Scottish Green MSP told Holyrood that the Scottish Government had been put in an "impossible position" by attempting to push ahead with the recycling scheme ahead of the rest of the UK. 

Slater said the Tories were attempting to force the Scottish Government to ask businesses to comply with UK-wide regulations "that we haven't seen yet".

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We previously told how there were calls for transparency after a "striking coincidence" of a donation from a trade body to the Tories after the UK Government changed its position, and how Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord's shares in whisky firms raised questions. 

And now, the Scottish Government has announced that the deposit return scheme (DRS) will have to be paused until at least October 2025, when the UK-wide scheme will come into force. 

Slater told MSPs: "I told Parliament yesterday that our scheme cannot proceed as planned.

The National: Lorna Slater

"The refusal of the UK Government alone to budge on glass makes that obvious.

"As of today, it is now clear that we have been left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS, until October 2025 at the earliest based on the UK Government’s current stated aspirations.

"I remain committed to interoperable DRS schemes across the UK provided that we can work in a spirit of collaboration not imposition.  

"I wrote again last night to the UK Government, to urge ministers to reset a climate of trust and good faith to galvanise and retain the knowledge that has been built in Circularity Scotland and DRS partners in Scotland."

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Slater said that the Scottish Parliament voted for the DRS to deliver “distinctive and progressive policies” for Scotland. 

The minister said the UK Government refused to give an Internal Market Act exemption to allow glass to be included in the scheme after “almost two years of discussion” and that they had offered “no justification” for removing glass. 

Slater noted that the UK Government’s decision letter on the IMA noted the “strong representations” made by relevant business, amid calls for transparency over the impact of industry lobbying on Westminster’s decision making. 

Earlier, the Scottish Greens MSP said: "While Circularity Scotland has been optimistic that the scheme could go ahead without glass, the overwhelming feedback from producers, retailers and hospitality is that they cannot prepare for a March launch based on the changes being required by the UK Government without any certainty even about what those changes would be.

"And since the delivery of DRS is an industry-led project, these views are critical.

"Today the First Minister and I heard that industry, in turn, recognises the enormous amount of work carried out by their body Circularity Scotland on their behalf and acknowledges the case for sustaining a delivery vehicle for the DRS to come."

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“Scotland will have a deposit return scheme. It will come later than need be. It will be more limited than it should be," the Greens minister added. 

“More limited than parliament voted for. More limited than I want, that other devolved nations wanted and that even the Tories in the last election wanted.

“And these delays and dilutions lie squarely in the hands of UK Government that has sadly seemed so far more intent on sabotaging this parliament than protecting our environment.”

Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden (pictured below) claimed that the DRS had already failed "long before any intervention from the UK". 

The National:

"Just days ago, the minister and First Minister were indulging in reckless scaremongering, threatening to scrap the scheme of glass wasn't included," he said.

"They tried the old nationalist trick of picking a fight with the UK Government, but it backfired."

Golden claimed that the SNP and Greens were already planning to ditch the DRS, and were using the glass issue as an "excuse". 

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Slater replied: "I'm unclear whether the member understands the situation as I have laid it out. 

"Scotland's deposit return scheme, as I have set it out, we will look forward to a date of October 2025, which is the earliest possible date that the UK Government has committed to delivering their scheme.

"The main conditions that have been applied to the scheme, through the use of the internal market act, placed us in an impossible position.

"So that going ahead of the UK means that we would be asking businesses to comply with regulations that we haven't seen yet."