Small businesses may have a bottle return plan grace period End-shutdown
Small businesses may not have to comply with Scotland’s bottle take-back scheme right away, according to the minister for the circular economy.
Lorna Slater told the BBC that she was “actively considering” a grace period.
SNP leadership candidates have now said they will propose changes to the scheme due to be launched in August.
It is designed to encourage recycling through a 20p deposit on single-use drinks bottles and cans.
Critics say the deposit return scheme will pose significant costs and risks for businesses and put further pressure on consumers.
In an interview with the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Kate Forbes said any scheme had to “work for all of Scotland”.
“We need to identify why companies are up in arms, how to adapt the scheme… and then deliver a scheme that actually achieves its objectives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that it would exclude small businesses for the first year of operation if elected prime minister.
“It’s not the craft breweries or craft gin makers that are causing the problem, it’s the big producers we should be targeting,” he said.
Speaking further on the SNP’s coalition with the Scottish Greens, Ash Regan told The Sunday Show: “We can’t let the tail wag the dog.
“Now the SNP got 45% of the vote in the last election and the Greens only got 4%, so we cannot be held hostage to that situation.”
talking to the bbc Sunday’s programMs. Slater said that Mr. Yousaf was referring to a grace period that she was discussing.
She said she had spoken to the companies about their concerns ahead of the February 28 registration deadline, but added that the plan “definitely goes ahead.”
Ms Slater said: “There are two things online here: one is to register with the scheme administrator and the deadline is Tuesday. That is the registration process.
“In terms of actively getting your product on the shelf and making sure the labeling is correct etc., then we’ll work with smallholders to get them into the scheme in a pragmatic way that works for them. Those are two different timelines.”
Recently, Circularity Scotland, which is responsible for administering the scheme, announced £22m of cash flow support to remove up-front fees from some companies.
But Dougal Sharp, founder of Scottish brewer Innis and Gunn, said there were still many unanswered questions, which meant companies were facing a “devil’s choice”.
Asked what would happen if he did not sign up for the scheme, he said business would come to a standstill as they would not be able to sell in Scotland.
He said: “If you take a step back from this and consider the huge risks that the whole scheme is imposing on consumers through massively inflated costs, huge changes in behavior and complexity, and then of course for businesses : the significant costs and risks associated with the scheme.
“We call for an immediate pause and rethinking of all of this.”
On the possible grace period for smaller companies, Sharp said there were many companies of different sizes and “almost all” would end up paying the cost of the scheme if it did not launch as planned.
He also noted problems consumers may experience, such as long lines at return points.
“This is money that the consumer will need to get back,” he said. “Budgets are tight, we know how much pressure the consumer is under in terms of the household budget. This is putting more pressure and bringing with it huge obligations for the consumer.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said it was “mind-boggling” that Slater was considering a grace period for small businesses so close to Tuesday’s deadline.
He also said that the minister was unable to define what would constitute a small producer.
Scottish Lib Dem climate emergency spokesman Liam McArthur called on the Scottish government to halt the scheme.
He added: “We cannot reasonably expect companies to sign up to such a scheme when there is still such an acute lack of clarity.”
And Scottish Labour’s net zero spokesman Colin Smyth accused Ms Slater of “just making up policies as they go along”.
He said: “This ridiculous approach by the Green-SNP coalition is hurting a lot of small businesses who are afraid of going out of business and is actually undermining the deposit return scheme itself.”