The founder of one of Scotland’s most popular beers has branded the deposit return scheme (DRS) a “bonfire of chaos” which was “absolute insanity for consumers”.

Dougal Sharp, founder of the Innis and Gunn Brewing Company, hit out at the Scottish Government recycling scheme on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

It comes after the chief of Tennent's beer warned the potential exclusion of glass from the DRS "increases the already huge uncertainty around the scheme for the drinks industry".

Mr Sharp described the initiative, for which Greens circular economy minister Lorna Slater is in charge of implementing, as a “bonfire of chaos”, and told the broadcaster on Friday: “It’s been chaos from the outset and the chaos continues.

Read more: Tennent's anger over UK Government's DRS glass exclusion demand

“Businesses are reeling with uncertainty, and no one knows where to look next for answers. It’s a shambles.”

Under plans outlined for Scotland, shoppers would pay a 20p deposit every time they buy a drink in a can or bottle, with that money refunded to them when the empty containers are returned for recycling.

But the future of the scheme was brought into doubt by the Scottish Government after the UK Government allowed it to go ahead but without glass bottles in the scheme – a key principle agreed by MSPs.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said it could be scrapped unless the UK Government does not reverse its decision to exclude glass from the plans.

Read more: Jack accused of lying to MPs over DRS row with Scottish Government

Scotland’s deposit return scheme is due to begin in March 2024, with the earlier start date forcing ministers to seek an exemption from UK-wide legislation which aims to ensure there are no trade barriers between the four nations.

Mr Sharp said claims the scheme is ready to go were “utter nonsense”.

He added: “I have lived and breathed this, and its evolution, for years, and I think if you talk to any of the major businesses based in Scotland – either retailers or producers – nobody actually believes that this scheme is ready to go.

“It wasn’t ready to go in August, it certainly won’t be ready to go in March next year, because there are hundreds of unanswered questions as to how this is going to work in practice.”

Read more: SNP Net Zero Secretary claims UK wants Scotland to test water on DRS

Mr Sharp said that whether glass is included or not, the “price that this is going to force on to consumers is going to be significant”, with “£20, £30, £40 extra on your shopping bill every week” of which customers would not get all of it back.

He added: “Whether or not Westminster’s intervention is helpful or unhelpful, as it stands or as it was drafted, the scheme is absolute insanity for consumers and, actually, will lead to potentially less recycling rather than more in Scotland, which I find absurd.”

Last week, the UK Government agreed the temporary extension from the Internal Market Act, but insisted the Scottish scheme cannot include glass so it matches the initiative in England, which is due to begin in 2025.

The Herald: Maurice GoldenMaurice Golden (Image: PA)

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, said: “Dougal Sharp’s withering assessment of Lorna Slater’s shambolic deposit return scheme totally undermines her claim that it’s ready to go.

“The SNP-Greens are desperately spinning the line that the UK Government are somehow standing in the way of DRS.

"The reality is nationalist ministers only applied for an internal market act exemption at the last minute and the UK Government responded with a compromise that addresses the concerns of businesses.

“Lorna Slater must stop blaming everyone else for a fiasco that’s entirely of her making. From day one, she has failed to engage with businesses and stubbornly ploughed ahead with a flawed scheme in spite of their warnings.

“That’s why retailers have no confidence in her ever being able to deliver the workable recycling system that we all want to see.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesperson, Liam McArthur, warned that “businesses are being completely messed around by a government that seems to have been hellbent on making a pig’s ear of a good idea".  

He added: “Given the confusion and uncertainty that reigns, businesses need both Scotland’s governments to start acting like the adults in the room and agree a way forward.

"Sadly, we seem to be a million miles away from that right now.”