THE First Minister is considering pausing the introduction of the deposit return scheme (DRS).

During the SNP leadership race, Yousaf pledged that small producers like craft breweries would be given a one-year exemption to the DRS when it launched.

But with ministers at Holyrood continuing to come under pressure over the scheme, which is due to come in on August 16, a spokesman said a pause is now being looked at.

READ MORE: European groups back Scotland's 'world-leading' deposit return scheme

A spokesman for Yousaf said on Thursday: “It’s one of the things he’s considering early on, now that he’s in post.”

He added it is a “discussion to be had” about DRS.

It comes just days after organisations from across Europe wrote to Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater to show support for the scheme.

Soft drinks giants Coca-Cola and Irn-Bru also joined together to urge that its introduction is made a “top priority”.

The two other candidates who ran against Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest, Ash Regan and Kate Forbes, both backed pausing the introduction of the scheme.

Meanwhile, bosses in Scotland’s hospitality sector said delaying the introduction of DRS could help reset the relationship between ministers and business.

Leon Thompson, UKHospitality Scotland executive director, described the “looming introduction” of the scheme as one of the “enormous challenges” facing the sector.

DRS will see consumers charged a 20p deposit every time they buy a drink in a can or bottle, with that money refunded to them when they return the empty container for recycling.

Thompson said: “It’s positive that the First Minister committed during his campaign that he would provide an initial exemption from DRS for small businesses, but I would urge him to go further and pause the scheme completely, in order to conduct a full review.

“There is a real need for the First Minister to reset and repair the Scottish Government’s relationship with business, which has been incredibly fractious over the past few years, and pausing DRS would be a significant sign that he recognises that.

“Scottish hospitality is already a huge part of our economy and Scotland’s tourism offering but it can do so much more with the right support."