THE organisation which will run the planned deposit return scheme (DRS) was not informed in advance of the First Minister's decision to delay it, it has emerged.

Donald McCalman, programme director for Circularity Scotland, said the delay came because not enough firms are ready to deliver the "fantastic consumer experience" needed.

On Tuesday, Humza Yousaf postponed the introduction of the DRS from this August to March next year.

He acknowledged the scheme had led to concern among many in the business community and said the UK Government's decision not to grant an exemption under the Internal Market Act had caused uncertainty.

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The DRS will mean customers pay a 20p deposit on drinks in cans and bottles which will be paid back when the containers are returned.

On Thursday, Mr McCalman spoke to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio programme.

Asked when he found out about the delay, he said it was "the same time as everybody else" on Tuesday.

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Circularity Scotland is a not-for-profit company set up to administer the scheme and will be responsible for its smooth operation, with Biffa handling logistics.

Mr McCalman stressed the importance of consumers having a simple experience when the DRS launches, saying: "As far as I can understand from what the First Minister has said on Tuesday, not enough organisations are going to be ready to have that fantastic consumer experience.

"Some of that possibly caused by, as he said, some of the uncertainties that still exist.
"Uncertainty causes some businesses to say 'you know what, maybe I need to start thinking differently about how I'm deploying my resources'.

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"That's entirely up to those organisations to take that view."

Mr Yousaf was yesterday urged to take responsibility for the scheme off Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater.

Scottish Labour's call followed a backlash by some businesses about the initiative and fears it will hit the pockets of consumers amid the cost of living crisis.

The scheme has been under fire for months but the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity has repeatedly dismissed concerns.

In a letter to the First Minister, Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman for Net Zero, Energy and Just Transition Sarah Boyack branded the recycling initiative a “farce” and questioned whether Ms Slater, one of two Scottish Green ministers, was capable of regaining the trust of the sector. 

She said: "Stakeholders have repeatedly expressed their frustration that the minister does not meaningfully engage with them on amendments or revisions to the scheme and that she often passes the buck to Circularity Scotland, particularly in relation to the impact of the scheme on existing recycling and waste management schemes."

In his statement to parliament on Tuesday Mr Yousaf said a package of measures would also be put in place to "simplify and de-risk" the scheme with details to be unveiled in Holyrood later today.

The announcement fell just minutes after Ms Slater fielded a topical question about the scheme's future, where former Scottish Government minister Fergus Ewing described the initiative as a "Green poll tax".