THE First Minister has urged businesses to sign up to Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) as the minister in charge stresses that it is “on track” to be introduced in the summer.

Due to go live on August 16, the DRS will add an extra 20p deposit onto single-use drinks cans and bottles.

Consumers will be able to get this deposit back once they return the finished container to a reverse-vending machine or recycling point.

The Scottish Government expects the scheme to cut littering by a third and greatly increase the current recycling rate of single-use drinks containers from 50% to closer to 90%.

“Scotland’s deposit return scheme will be a major part of our efforts to reduce litter, cut emissions and build a greener, more circular economy,” said Nicola Sturgeon.

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“Good progress is being made by industry ahead of the scheme’s introduction on 16 August, and I am aware of the significant private investment that has already been made by many businesses to be ready for the scheme, and the many jobs that are being created to operate it.

“I would strongly encourage drinks producers to register with the scheme administrator, Circularity Scotland. This is a vital step to ensuring everyone who needs to be is compliant with the regulations and is the best way to make sure that their products can be sold without issue in Scotland.

“I also want to reassure drinks producers with concerns about the impact of the scheme. Sepa has made clear that they will take a proportionate approach to compliance. They will work with businesses to help them get ready – advice and guidance, not fines, will be the first step for any business that is clearly taking action but struggling to meet their obligations.”

Drinks producers had until midnight on Tuesday to sign up for the scheme but Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has hinted that the UK Government might not agree to a UK Internal Market Act exemption.

The National:

Today, Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Rishi Sunak to reiterate the need for an exemption.

However, Scottish Greens MSP Lorna Slater – who is leading the project – has faced scepticism about whether the scheme will be delivered on time.

Indeed, two SNP leadership candidates – Kate Forbes and Ash Regan – have said they would delay the scheme.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said a delay is “almost inevitable”.

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He said: “However much the minister wants to pretend otherwise, the reality is a delay is now almost inevitable at some point.

“Businesses are staring ruin the face while the minister seems to be closing her eyes, crossing her fingers and hoping for the best.

“The question is do we take an informed and workable pause to rescue the scheme, or wait for the Scottish Government’s staggering level of incompetence to force us into a messy delay?”

Slater insisted that although the launch of the scheme is “not easy”, it will be “transformational” in improving recycling rates and is "on track" to be rolled out in August.