The Scottish minister in charge of implementing the deposit return system (DRS) has charged that the United Kingdom Government has consistently obstructed Holyrood.
The Westminster Government stated the DRS may only proceed in Scotland if amendments are made due to concerns about trade barriers inside the UK, prompting Lorna Slater, the Scottish Government’s minister for the circular economy, to escalate her criticism of the Westminster Government on Sunday.
The main modification is the elimination of glass bottles from the program, which will now begin in March 2024 instead of this August.
The action, according to Ms. Slater, has led to “massive uncertainty” and is a part of a “systematic undermining of devolution.”
The Scottish Green MSP told the BBC’s Sunday Show: “We should absolutely be using the powers of devolution to prevent waste and litter, to tackle environmental issues and social issues. That’s what it’s for.
“Westminster is starting to block us at every turn, on equalities issues, on environmental issues, this is a disastrous way forward and is disrespectful to Scotland.”
But Scottish Conservative Maurice Golden said Ms Slater has “tried to cover up her own inadequacies by pettily attempting to make the deposit return scheme a constitutional issue”.
He added: “The UK Government have listened to worried businesses who are calling for a UK-wide approach.
“The reality is the SNP-Greens have made such a mess of things that the current scheme is unrecognisable from the one envisaged four years ago.”
First Minister Humza Yousaf received a letter from UK government ministers on Friday evening informing him that the program could only include PET plastic bottles and aluminum and steel cans in order for it to move forward.
Scottish ministers were compelled to request an exemption from the UK Internal Market Act since similar programs in the rest of the UK weren’t scheduled to take effect until 2025, raising worries about how this would affect commerce between the four countries.
The DRS proposals for England and Northern Ireland do not cover glass bottles, and UK authorities said that including glass in the Scottish system could lead to a “permanent divergence” in the market.
Therese Coffey, the UK secretary for the environment, Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, and Michael Gove, the minister in charge of intergovernmental relations, all noted that it would be “a very significant step for businesses and consumers, and there is insufficient justification for such an approach” in their letter.
Ms Slater said on Sunday it has created “massive uncertainty for the system”
She told the BBC: “We now have to go back, talk to Scottish businesses, talk to our delivery partners for the scheme, and understand if we still have a viable scheme going forward, this is such a significant change.
“We’ll be doing that as quickly as possible but, of course, it will take a bit of time to evaluate a scheme without glass and understand how this will affect Scottish business.”