Scotland’s DRS scheme on “shaky peg”, CCEP executive says

Jim Fox, associate director of public affairs at CCEP, told attendees Scottish businesses could lose tens of millions of pounds as a result of the delay.

Jessica Broadbent October 18 2023

Scotland’s delayed launch of its DRS scheme in 2025 hangs on a “shaky peg”, a Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) executive has said.

Originally due to launch in August, the scheme was pushed back at the last minute in June to 2025, in line with schemes across the rest of the UK.

Speaking on a panel at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference in Aberdeen this week, Jim Fox, associate director of public affairs at CCEP, told attendees Scottish businesses could lose tens of millions of pounds as a result of the delay.

He told Just Drinks: “I was asked if I thought DRS Scotland would begin in Oct 2025. My full response was that we want it to happen as soon as possible but it is a complex project and in my opinion that date is now on a ‘shakey peg’.”

On Monday (16 October), CCEP sponsored a ‘fringe’ event at the conference entitled ‘How do we make the Deposit Return Scheme a success story for the environment and for Scotland?’ Speakers included Scotland’s former business minister and MSP Ivan McKee and fellow MSP Collette Stevenson.

CCEP has long shown its support of a bottle-and-can recycling scheme and said it was the first drinks company to call for such a scheme in Great Britain.

The Coca-Cola bottler confirmed to Just Drinks yesterday it was working with policymakers and industry groups to develop DRSs in England, Scotland and Wales by the October 2025 deadline.

The initial Scottish DRS was set to be introduced on 16 August and required all drinks producers and retailers that sold single-use containers in Scotland to sign up for the scheme, under which a refundable £0.20 (then-$0.24) deposit would apply to PET plastic, steel, aluminium or glass containers from 50ml to three litres in size.

Consumers would be able to return drinks containers to a number of shops and hospitality sites across Scotland. The scheme’s implementation authority, Circularity Scotland – which appointed administrators in June – claimed the scheme should stop 90% of recyclable products going to waste.

The DRS was pushed back in June following changes made by the UK Government.

The UK’s Internal Market Act approved an exemption to allow Scotland’s DRS to move forward but added that glass returns would not be part of the scheme until England, Wales and Northern Ireland also had their own DRS systems in place.

Tennent’s brand owner C&C Group reportedly expressed concerns removing glass from the scheme would threaten jobs and investments in Scotland. It said the decision would put brands such as Tennent, which sells drinks in cans, at a significant disadvantage.

Lorna Slater, the Scottish government’s minister for the circular economy, said the UK government’s “11th-hour intervention” meant “the scope and form of the scheme that this parliament passed cannot go ahead as currently planned”.

CCEP was reportedly among members of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) seeking financial compensation over the scheme’s delay.

The BSDA was pushing for financial reparations to cover costs incurred by members to prepare for the launch – its members include CCEP, Red Bull, AG Barr and Britvic.

A spokesperson for the BSDA at the time said the companies weren’t looking to sue the government, and added it “will be possible to resolve the issue another way”.

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