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Beer company criticizes bottle deposit scheme Story-level




One of Scotland’s most recognizable drinks brands is among the hundreds that have not signed up to a controversial new bottle recycling scheme.

Dougal Sharp, the founder of Innis and Gunn, questioned the legality of the scheme, raising concerns about the costs to businesses and consumers.

A total of 664 producers had signed up for the deposit return system before Tuesday’s deadline.

Initially it was estimated that around 4,500 producers would have to register.

However, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that the number had now been revised to “less than 2,000”.

She said the companies that have registered are responsible for 95% of drinks sold in single-use packaging in Scotland.

The scheme is designed to boost recycling through a 20p deposit on single-use bottles and cans.

Registration will now be open until the launch of the scheme on August 16.

Sharp told BBC Radio Scotland’s good morning scotland program that there were too many unanswered questions about the scheme, including whether or not it was legal.

The brewer said he had taken the advice of lawyers before deciding not to sign before Tuesday’s deadline.

He said many businesses “felt they had no choice” to join the scheme as it would affect their ability to trade in Scotland from August 16.

But he feared the scheme would put “enormous price pressure on consumers”.

“A four-pack of our beer could cost between £5 and £7 – I think that’s an outrage in the midst of the biggest cost-of-living crisis we can remember,” he said.

Sharp questioned the availability of reverse vending machines

Under the scheme, a 20p deposit will be added to all single-use drink containers made of PET plastic, metal or glass.

Consumers can claim their money back by returning the packaging to retailers and hospitality venues that sell these single-use take-out products.

“You will get some of that money back, but you won’t get all of it back,” Sharp said.

“My big fear is that there aren’t enough reverse vending machines for people to return their cans and bottles, and if there aren’t, how do you get the money back?”

All three contenders for the SNP leadership have said the scheme will not go ahead in its current form.

Kate Forbes and Ash Regan want to stop the scheme, while Humza Yousaf said he would exempt smaller companies for a year.

But Sharp said he wants it undone.

“The scheme will destroy the existing [recycling] infrastructure and create new infrastructure,” he said.

“If that’s not wasteful, I don’t know what is. I think there are better ways to do it.”

He said some of the money from drinks sales should be set aside to invest more in Scotland’s existing recycling industry rather than the new scheme.

Minister Lorna Slater

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said the scheme would still launch as planned on August 16 and registration for growers will be open until then.

The Scottish Greens co-leader said the industry had been challenged to “do its part to address the climate emergency” but understood there were concerns for smallholders that the government was “systematically working to resolve”.

Speaking at Holyrood on Thursday, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, called the scheme a “total disaster”.

He said the voices of businesses across Scotland had been ignored.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, he asked Nicola Sturgeon to clarify how many companies should have signed up before Tuesday’s deadline.

Ms Sturgeon said: “At the start of the introduction of this scheme, it was estimated that there were around 4,500.

“However, much less than that will need to register because once groups of companies registering under a registry are identified, the estimated number of individual producers/importers will be less than 2,000.”

She added: “The vast majority of the product is actually produced by a relatively small number of growers.

“Yesterday more than 90% of the product and the market is covered and that is the crucial point. If it were the other way around, that would be a problem.”

David Harris, chief executive of Circularity Scotland, told BBC Scotland there was “misinformation” and “misunderstanding” about Scotland’s scheme.

He urges anyone who feels their business will be affected by these regulations to contact Circularity Scotland.

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