HUMZA Yousaf has confirmed that Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will not be introduced until March 1 2024.

The First Minister confirmed his plans for the scheme during his address to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon. 

He said he and Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater had recognised the concerns of small businesses and the “uncertainty” created by the UK Government.

Yousaf said he was looking to “reset” the government’s relationship with business. 

READ MORE: Deposit Return Scheme: What is it and when will it begin?

The scheme was due to come into force in August in a bid to “increase recycling, reduce litter and help achieve” net zero goals. 

The DRS involves shoppers paying an extra 20p when purchasing drinks in a can or bottle, with the deposit returned when they bring back the empty container for recycling. 

The First Minister explained: “We recognise the uncertainty that continues to be created as a result of the UK Government delaying the decision to exclude the scheme from the Internal Market Act. We had hoped for that decision this week – but it has not come. 

“At the same time, I – and the Circular Economy Minister – have heard the concerns of business, particularly about the scheme’s readiness for launch this August.

“As a result, we will now delay the launch of the scheme to March 1 2024. This provides 10 months for businesses to get ready. 

“We will use that additional time to work with businesses and Circularity Scotland, to address concerns with the scheme and ensure a successful launch next year.”

A package of measures, Yousaf said, would also be put in place to “simplify and de-risk” the scheme. 

Last month, more than 550 businesses from up and down the country issued a joint statement calling for action on the scheme. 

However, soft drinks giants including Coca-Cola and the makers of Irn-Bru joined together at the end of March to urge the First Minister to make introducing the scheme a “top priority”.

The plans also split opinion among the SNP’s own MSPs with Fergus Ewing previously calling on the Scottish Government to postpone the scheme by at least 18 months. 

The Scottish Greens meanwhile have accused the UK Government of “planet-sized stupidity” over what they see as a deliberate blocking of the DRS by refusing to grant an exclusion to the Internal Market Act. 

Under the post-Brexit Internal Market Act, goods sold in one part of the UK should be able to be sold in any other area of the UK without adhering to different regulatory requirements. 

The cost of the 20p deposit will be met by the producer, who will have to add that money onto every single-use container before it is sold. 

Because the DRS would mean different prices for the same products on either side of the Border, it requires an opt-out from the legislation. 

The party’s environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: "The Tories are holding Scotland and an entire generation of people hostage with made up rules in the middle of a climate crisis. 

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak resists 'come clean' call amid Koru Kids interest probe

“Scottish Secretary Alister Jack’s utterly brazen attempts to undermine the work of the Scottish Parliament - and in Fergus Ewing’s case his own government - has nothing to do with protecting the environment and everything to do with defending corporate profits.

“They have deliberately conspired to undermine business confidence and showed contempt for the Scottish Parliament, environmental charities and thumbed their nose at every nation who came to Glasgow seeking leadership at Cop26.

"Only with the Scottish Greens in government does Scotland stand a chance of delivering the kind of vision that is needed to overcome such planet sized stupidity.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: "I welcome the First Minister's decision to pause the Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme, given the widespread concerns from businesses.

“We now have an opportunity to continue working together on solutions which deliver for consumers and businesses across the UK, while helping to realise our shared ambition to improve the environment.”