INDUSTRY bodies have said they are “relieved” that Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) has been delayed until 2025.

The recycling scheme, where consumers would pay a small deposit on any containers, with the cost put on industry and producers, has become a constitutional row after the UK Government refused to grant an exemption to the post-Brexit Internal Market Act (IMA) to allow glass to be included in the scheme.

We previously told how the UK Government initially supported glass in England’s DRS in 2018, but changed their mind in 2022. There have been calls for greater transparency on the impact of lobbying on the Westminster Government’s decision, after we revealed a “striking coincidence” donation from a trade body to the Tories.

READ MORE: SNP won't 'officially decide' independence strategy at convention

Six weeks after they signalled a change in position, the Tories accepted £20,000 from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA).

It also emerged this week that Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden accepted hospitality from Heineken before changing his position on including glass, which he had supported since 2019, and Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord’s shares in a whisky distillery were revealed.

And now, with Circularity Minister Lorna Slater confirming the delay after the UK Government put Scotland in an “impossible position”, industry has welcomed the news.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA said: “It comes as a huge relief that Scotland’s fundamentally flawed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has been put on ice until at least October 2025, allowing for the consultation on and eventual introduction of a UK-wide scheme that excludes glass.

“The WSTA led the charge in arguing against the inclusion of glass in any DRS scheme on grounds it was unimplementable, would fail to achieve its aims and penalise some business and consumers.”

Beale claimed that excluding glass from the scheme is more “environmentally friendly”, but this has been repeatedly disputed by supporters of the DRS.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (FIR) said that it “makes sense” for Scotland’s scheme to be delayed until it can launch at the same time as the rest of the UK.

Mo Razzaq, FIR’s national deputy vice president, said that businesses are “angry and seriously short-changed” because of the confusion over the scheme.

READ MORE: SNP sources brand Independence Convention 'moronic'

"We call on the developers of the scheme for Wales, England, Northern Ireland and now Scotland to avoid the mistakes made in Scotland but still progress as quickly as possible to meet the urgent need for less litter and less waste of the earth’s resources.

“As planning has not progressed well in Scotland, we can see the case for dropping the ambitious objective of including glass from the very beginning. Most other countries in Europe have phased in glass sometime after the launch of the core part of their return schemes.

“As it takes much energy to produce glass, we would urge the four nations of the UK to consider a scheme whereby drinks companies refill and reuse bottles multiple times rather than sending them to be crushed after one use.”

Razzaq added that retailers who have leased contracts for machines to process returned bottle cans are compensated, and claimed that they are facing costs of £4000 each year, excluding other costs such as service charges.

The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) also welcomed the news and said the scheme should be delayed until a “UK-wide set of standards” is agreed.

A spokesperson added: “At a meeting this morning with the First Minister the single biggest message from business was that any scheme must be identical in scope and timing across the whole of the UK. It’s important that we take a common sense approach and consider how to design a consistent and fair UK-wide set of scheme standards, avoiding market distortions.”

The British Soft Drinks Association said it has long supported the introduction of a “industry-led, interoperable DRS” and noted the “significant investment” made by members to get the scheme off the ground.

READ MORE: PMQs: Oliver Dowden in King's coronation rant after SNP raise economy 

“We now urge the UK Government to publish a blueprint for how it intends to achieve an October 2025 start date, particularly regarding how it intends to fulfil the conditions set out in its letter to the Scottish Government,” BSDA director general Gavin Partington said.

Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack (pictured below), who was accused of making “totally inaccurate” comments regarding the DRS over the weekend, said he welcomed the Scottish Government’s “commitment to interoperability”.

“Deposit Return Schemes need to be consistent across the whole of the UK, to provide a simple and effective system for businesses and consumers,” he said.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government, and the other devolved administrations, on a UK-wide deposit return solution.

The National: Alister Jack

“The UK Government remains unwavering in its commitment to improving the environment, while also upholding the UK’s internal market.”

However, Circularity Scotland, the body in charge of operating the DRS, said that the decision was a “disappointing outcome” that will have a “significant impact” on investment in Scotland.

Chief executive David Harris said: “We have made it clear that industry was prepared for the Deposit Return Scheme to go live in March 2024, and that a scheme without glass is both economically viable and is an opportunity for Scotland to provide a platform for a UK-wide DRS. Regrettably, further delaying the introduction of DRS will hinder Scotland’s progress towards net zero and mean that billions of drinks containers continue to end up as waste.

"The Board of Circularity Scotland will now consider the impact of this announcement and our immediate priority will be communicating with our people. We will provide further updates in due course."