The call from the trade association for Scotland’s food and drink wholesale businesses came ahead of the final Holyrood vote on the draft regulations today.
While the trade group welcomed the March announcement that the Scottish Government had extended the “go live” date for the implementation of the scheme from April 2021 to July 2022, it has reiterated concerns over the negative impact that DRS.
It is concerned particularly about how it will affect its will have on its members, many of whom are already struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Association chief executive Colin Smith said: “Wholesalers and our partners in retail, tourism and hospitality represent some of the sectors most badly impacted by Covid-19 – SWA has members who have lost 80 per cent of their foodservice trade overnight while receiving no government assistance two months into this crisis.
“Last month, in the State of the Economy report published by the Scottish Government’s chief economist, it was reported that GDP could fall by around 33% during the current period of social distancing and that sectors such as retail, wholesale, tourism and hospitality are likely to be among the worst affected.
“In view of this we are urging MSPs to support their local businesses and halt the DRS regulations at this time, taking unnecessary pressure off our members and their customers.
“The regulations can then be revisited when we have a better understanding of the ‘new normal’ both in terms of Scotland’s economic and environmental future.”
Smith added: “We know that the final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) underpinning the Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020 is now obsolete.
“There will be a need for revised data and a fresh look at scheme design as a result of Covid-19 impacts on the number of containers on the market, numbers of retail and hospitality return points, council recycling rates, and online food sales.”
The Scottish Government wants to introduce a DRS scheme that will include plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), aluminium and steel cans, and glass bottles.
Under the scheme, a 20p deposit will be applied each time one of those single-use drinks containers is solid.
Meanwhile research commissioned by British Glass suggests householders feel legislation should be paused considering the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Consumer research undertaken by Toluna ahead of the vote in parliament found 61% of householders believe the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland should be delayed or paused.
Consumer concerns mirror that of British Glass who have urged ministers to pause the Scottish Government’s DRS Regulations.
British Glass CEO Dave Dalton said, “We believe strongly the Scottish Government should pause the Regulations until the full impact of COVID-19 and its consequences on the drinks supply chain and local authorities are able to be evaluated.
“Now is not the time to push this through as we see huge shifts in the volumes of household recycling, as well as the lack of material available from the hospitality sector and pressures on local authority recycling services.
“Both the UK and Scottish Governments are in the process of working towards a route out of lockdown – It is simply not possible for an informed decision regarding what the ‘new normal’ will look like for recycling rates and several other factors which have a significant impact on DRS.
“The Scottish public recognise that COVID-19 must be the priority for Holyrood, now so must the Scottish Government”
Calls grow for Scottish Government to pause Deposit Return Scheme