Shop owners out of pocket as Scotland’s recycling plan for drinks containers could collapse


Scotland’s recycling plan for drinks containers could collapse after a row erupted over whether to include glass bottles.

Scotland’s deposit return scheme would allow users to swap bottles and cans for cash or coupons.

However, the UK government’s decision that glass bottles cannot be included has lead to reports the scheme in Scotland could collapse.

A planned launch of the scheme for August 2023 has been pushed back to March next year – but with glass bottles not included.

It is now thought to be likely Scotland will wait to join the UK-wide scheme when it launches in 2025.

It comes after many small businesses in Scotland made significant investments to prepare, including installing reverse vending machines that can collect containers and print out vouchers.

Mo Razzaq, shop owner and Labour councillor, told Sky News he has removed an ATM machine at his store in Glasgow to accommodate the machine.

“We spent over £10,000 on this room alone,” he said, as he showed us around.

He pointed out a ramp for wheelchairs and a sink for users to clean their hands after handling discarded items.

“That £10,000 we’re not going to get back and we don’t know what’s going to happen with the scheme. We’ve paid for a machine we can’t use,” he added.

Mr Razzaq, who is also vice president of the Federation of Independent Retailers, said he paid £15,000 for the machine, which separates aluminium and steel cans, and plastic from glass.

“We were told all along that that is what is going to be included. This is the machine we were specified was required so that’s what we purchased.”

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Shop owners have spent thousands of pounds on the machine
The machine separates aluminium and steel cans, and plastic from glass

If the scheme goes ahead without glass, Mr Razzaq says he will lose money because his machine would need to be changed to a plastic/can-only device.

Earlier this week, the UK government confirmed the deposit return scheme can go ahead but said there is “insufficient justification” for glass bottles to be included.

Scottish ministers responded with claims devolution is “under sustained attack”.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said on Thursday: “We’ve seen the UK government determined to ride roughshod over a measure to improve recycling and dramatically reduce litter, by seeking to sabotage regulations that this parliament passed on bottle and can recycling and that is simply unacceptable.”

Colin Borland, director of Devolved Nations, said: “Smaller producers have suffered weeks and months of uncertainty following the saga of the DRS already, so this latest plot twist won’t be setting any of their minds at ease.

“As we wait for the Scottish government to decide whether or not to proceed with the scheme under these new terms, we would remind decision makers of the importance of enabling small businesses to make plans with confidence and a full understanding of what is required of them so they can play their part in making it a success.”

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