The scheme, which is based on international equivalents and expected to be introduced by the start of 2021, will see a 20p deposit added to the price of ‘certain’ single-use drinks containers.
Restaurants and pubs that sell drinks to be opened and consumed on-site will not have to charge the deposit to the public, and will only be required to return the containers they sell on their own premises.
Customers and business will be able to reclaim the deposit by returning the empty can or bottle to retailers who sell the products, or by using an online delivery return service.
News of the scheme has been met with a mixture of encouragement and apprehension from industry bodies.
“It is encouraging to see the proposed measures consider the difficulties that hospitality venues would face under an inflexible deposit return scheme, although we are still concerned about the scheme as a whole,” says Willie Macleod, executive director for UKHospitality in Scotland.
“Although the scheme does provide some breathing room for hospitality, there is still the potential for it to be fraudulently exploited.
“Additionally, if Scotland-specific packaging is required to mitigate the potential for fraud, then customers could end up with much less choice and higher costs.”
British Beer & Pub Association and Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds praised the announcement for providing “greater clarity” for Scotland’s beer and pub industry, but is concerned that the inclusion of glass in the scheme could pose problems for smaller pubs.
“Including glass substantially increases costs and adds complexity to the system,” she says.
“This will impact consumers and creates significant challenges for Scotland’s pubs. Many pubs simply do not have the storage space for glass. It cannot be crushed and therefore the storage requirements are huge for smaller premises in pubs or small shops.”
Macleod and Simmonds have both stressed the need for a ‘UK-wide’ solution.
“The scheme in Scotland may be used as a model for the rest of the UK,” adds Macleod. “But it is disappointing that we don’t already have a cohesive, UK-wide approach in place.”