The SNP cabinet secretary overseeing the under-fire deposit return scheme (DRS) has insisted the policy will launch as envisaged – as she claimed UK officials would like to see Scotland “cut its teeth” first with the scheme.

First Minister Humza Yousaf announced on Tuesday that the launch of the DRS will be delayed, again, from the anticipated August date until March next year.

The Scottish Government has blamed the delay on the UK Government failing to give clarity on whether an exemption to the Internal Market Act will be made. Both the Scottish and UK government dispute when the initial request for an exemption was made.

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SNP Net Zero Secretary, Mairi McAllan, who has ultimate responsibility for the policy above circular economy minister Lorna Slater, has welcomed the delay and has told The Herald that the UK Government would like to see a Scotland-only scheme launched first to “troubleshoot” some of the inevitable teething problems.

Asked by The Herald if she would like to see the DRS up and running as quickly as possible, Ms McAllan said: “Of course.”

She added: “But I want to see it up and running in a way that businesses can manage, which is exactly what the First Minister's announcement was about.

“It may feel like politics, but that DRS could not have gone ahead without that Internal Mark Act exemption, and we have been asking for that since 2021.

“The latest possible date that we could have gotten it to go live in August, as we planned was Monday.

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“And we had a meeting with our UK Government counterparts and it wasn't forthcoming – so that's fundamental.

“But at the same time, we acknowledge there were other concerns from business. So this is about us listening to them, but it's also about us not having that exemption.”

Some within the UK Government have called for the Scottish Government’s DRS to be halted with a UK-wide scheme launched, despite environment being devolved to Holyrood.

Ms McAllan said there will be some “additional measures” built into the DRs design, adding there will be “a combination of a delay, plus some changes that we've made from listening to business”.

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She added: “But that is subject to the UK Government recognising that the environment is devolved, and that they may have legislated for the Internal Market Act contrary to the Scottish Parliament's wishes but they cannot use that to stand in the way of devolved policy.”

Asked if the Scottish Government was running before it can walk amid off-track waste targets, Ms McAllan insisted “we need to aim high”.

She added: “We're confident we can pull it off, whilst you know listening to concerns and seeking to resolve them.

“But we are trying to join a number of countries throughout the world to already run very successfully DRS.”

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Pointing to calls for UK-wide scheme, the cabinet secretary told The Herald that “Defra (UK department for environment, food and rural affairs) are quite keen for Scotland to lead the way because we are troubleshooting a lot of this.

“Generally, you know, we'll have these discussions where it's quite clear that we have a shared policy objective. If we're going first we will cut our teeth on it.”

Opposition MSPs have called for widespread changes to be made to the plans, including removing glass from the policy.

But McMcAllan stressed the principles of the scheme will remain intact.

She said: “I think the debate about glass was had a long time ago.

“I think the inclusion of glass is important for both the environment and the littering objectives.”