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Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme delayed until 2024

Scotland’s controversial Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which has seen continuous pushback from the nation’s drinks sector for the “unnecessary damage” it would cause, has been delayed until March next year, First Minister Humza Yousaf has announced.

Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme delayed until 2024

Humza Yousaf announced the delay in a statement to the Scottish Parliament setting out Scottish government priorities over the next three years.

Scotland’s DRS was originally due to come into effect in August, and has caused continuous controversy, with some even calling the project a potential “high profile failure”.

Yousaf was urged to take action on the “chaotic and poorly designed” system on his election last month, and has now acted on his promise to address the issues raised by the industry about the DRS.

Mark Kent, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said of the announcement today: “This is a very welcome announcement by the First Minister, who has listened to the concerns voiced by industry on the alcohol marketing consultation and the Deposit Return Scheme. More widely, he has signalled a reset with the Scottish business community so the Scotch whisky industry and other sectors can help the Scottish government drive economic growth, creating prosperity and opportunity across the nation.

“Our industry has always supported the goals of the Deposit Return Scheme, but the Scottish DRS as currently devised would hamper the efforts of businesses across the country to reduce waste and bring about a more circular economy. The delay until March 2024 and full review in the coming months will enable us to work with government to ensure DRS is aligned with other systems across the UK and to once again look at the exclusion of glass, which the experience of international schemes tells us will help to simplify the scheme, and reduce the cost for businesses and consumers.

“The Scotch whisky industry is also aligned with the Scottish government on reducing alcohol misuse. The sweeping proposals set out in last year’s consultation would have distracted from that goal and would have caused unnecessary damage to the Scottish economy and society. The First minister recognised the need to reconsider this during the SNP leadership campaign and he has now followed through on his promise to withdraw the current proposals, and we look forward to working in partnership with government to promote moderation and reduce harmful consumption.”

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