CIRCULARITY Scotland, the administrators of Scotland's Deposit Recycling Scheme has sent home staff and warned that they may not be paid for the rest of the month. 

In a statement, the industry-led body said the Scottish Government's decision to push back the recycling programme for another two and a half years had left them trying to find a way to "continue to operate."

The delay was announced by Lorna Slater last Wednesday, with the Circular Economy minister, saying that had been "left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS, until October 2025 at the earliest" because of conditions imposed by the UK Government, including the exclusion of glass. 

Circularity Scotland (CSL) sent staff home the next day. 

READ MORE: Deposit Return Scheme delayed until October 2025 at the earliest

In a statement, the firm's board said they had been "working to manage the impact of the Scottish Government's announcement and find a way for the business to continue to operate."

They added: "While this work is ongoing, we instructed staff to go home on Thursday 8th June.

"The unfortunate reality is that, at this point, we are not able to confirm whether our staff will be paid for this month or whether they will be able to return to the office.

"The Board recognises that this is an extremely difficult time for our people and is working tirelessly to find a solution. We have remained in communication with our staff throughout and will provide updates to them at the earliest possible time." 

The DRS would see each single-use item carry a levy of 20p which is then refunded when the empty container is returned to retailers.

READ MORE: SNP raised DRS concerns three years ago despite '11th hour' claim

Earlier this month, the UK Government made clear the Scottish Government would only be given the necessary exemption to the UK Internal Market Act if they made a number of substantial changes.

As well as removing the glass, they included a demand that ministers in Edinburgh agree to standardise the deposit charge and labelling with the other UK schemes.

Last week, Ms Slater said the lack of detail around conditions laid down by Whitehall, including not knowing what the deposit charge would need to be, meant the scheme could not go ahead as planned.

However, CSL had insisted that the scheme could go ahead next March despite the UK Government's demands.

In an email to staff, obtained by the Daily Record, bosses at the not-for-profit firm said they were proposing that the company "exist 'in hibernation' until the Scottish DRS launches in October 2025."

The notice continued: “If stakeholders agree to fund this proposal, all employees would be at risk of redundancy and a consultation period would begin.

"In this scenario, it is likely that the company would be able to pay June salaries, any outstanding holiday pay and pay in lieu of notice to those made redundant.”

The firm added: “If stakeholders do not agree to fund this proposal, Circularity Scotland may go into administration. If the company becomes insolvent it may be unable to pay contractual monies due to employees - including June wages.”

The email said it anticipated the outcome of these talks would be known early next week.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf confirms 'no case' to give businesses DRS compensation

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Slater distanced the government from the firm's difficulties.

She said:  "Circularity Scotland is an industry body created by the drinks producers of Scotland to help them comply with the Scottish Government's regulations.

"It is up to the producers of Scotland to help CSL move forward so that they can comply with our regulations in October 2025."

Scottish Labour Net Zero spokesperson Sarah Boyack said: “This is an appalling way to treat staff and yet another sign of the SNP-Green government’s disastrous incompetence.

“It is a disgrace that people are at risk of losing their jobs because our two dysfunctional governments can’t work together.

“This scheme has been in chaos for months and plans should have been made for these workers before now.

“The Scottish and UK Governments must get round the table urgently to design a scheme that works so we can save these jobs and boost recycling rates.”

Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “The SNP and Greens who have botched this scheme from the outset must have known this could happen.

“Now their inexcusable failure means good people face losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

“Lorna Slater has repeatedly failed to acknowledge her role in this farce, and it’s time for her to face up and take some responsibility.

“The Scottish Government has shrouded Circularity Scotland and the wider process in secrecy, and this is what happens when proper scrutiny and accountability cannot be applied.

“A Deposit Return Scheme could have been launched in Scotland next year with the support of business and consumers, but the SNP-Green government preferred to pick a fight with the UK Government instead.”

Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:  

“First businesses, now staff. There is no end to the list of organisations and individuals caught in the crossfire and losing out because our two governments are incapable of working with one another.  

"Deposit return schemes have operated successfully around the world. Our governments must now work together to ensure that Scotland can follow suit and end this cycle of chaos."

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The operation of Circularity Scotland is a matter for them and the Scottish Government”

"Earlier this year the drinks industry raised concerns about the Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme differing from plans in the rest of the UK.

“The UK Government listened and worked at pace to accept the Scottish Government’s request for a UK Internal Market (UKIM) exclusion on a temporary and limited basis to ensure the Scottish Government’s scheme could proceed while aligning with planned schemes for the rest of the UK.

“The Chief Executive of Circularity Scotland was categorical that the scheme remained viable on this basis and that many other successful schemes run without glass. But the Scottish Government decided not to proceed and instead further paused the scheme until October 2025.