DRS: trade associations share glass concerns

broken glass

Sixteen industry bodies, including the SWA, SGF and SRC, have supported British Glass in an open letter to Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham, voicing concerns around the inclusion of glass within the Scottish deposit return scheme (DRS).

The letter outlined 15 different worries from across the industry landscape. Those of particular concern to retailers included the extra storage space required; manual handling issues; increased capital expenditure; the impact on prices and sales; fears over fraud and theft; and the added burden on elderly and disabled consumers.

Its publication follows that of a Zero Waste Scotland poll which found almost seven in 10 adults in Scotland say glass should definitely be included in the DRS.

Calling on the Scottish Government and MSPs across Parliament to “exclude glass from the DRS at this stage,” the letter suggested Holyrood should “consider an innovative approach which blends kerbside, EPR [extended producer responsibility] and bottle bank sites to recover the maximum amount of post-consumer glass.”

The SWA, SGF and SRC sit on the DRS Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) and have been working with the Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland and supply chain partners to try to deliver an effective, efficient DRS.

The three trade associations have all previously been critical of the inclusion of glass, with SGF boss Cheema stating the Federation would fight “tooth and nail” against the move.

Commenting on the publication of the open letter, SWA Chief Executive Colin Smith commented: “We have consistently opposed the inclusion of glass which adds costs, health and safety concerns and logistical complexity to the supply chain for a disproportionate benefit in terms of recycling rates.”

SGF Head of Policy and Public Affairs John Lee added: “We are seeing opposition to the inclusion of glass coming from right across the supply chain. The Scottish government and Parliament must listen to this and take glass out of the scheme.”

Smith also flagged up several other concerns about the scheme: “A Scotland-only DRS will create a beverage trade border between Scotland and England leading to a restriction on free trade, a need for Scotland-only SKUs, increased warehousing, ICT changes and more complex trading logistics”.

He went on to say a spring 2021 roll-out for DRS was “unachievable” and suggested the Scottish Government learned the lessons from the rushed implementation of the recent Track and Trace tobacco legislation.

British Glass said it will soon publish research showing that the inclusion of glass will “disrupt existing recycling systems and will act against Scotland achieving its environmental ambitions”.

The SWA will also share a separate report highlighting the significant negative impact of a Scottish-only DRS on the wholesale and food and drinks distribution industry.