“A BONFIRE of chaos,” is what the founder of one of Scotland’s leading beer brands branded the deposit return scheme (DRS) adding that it’s “absolute insanity for consumers”.

Dougal Sharp, CEO and founder of the Innis & Gunn Brewing Company hit out at the governments plan on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

It comes as the owners of Tennent’s warned that the potential exclusion of glass “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.

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

Shoppers would pay a 20p deposit each time they buy a canned or bottled drink, with the money refunded to them when they return the empty containers for recycling, the proposals outline.

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

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said it could be scrapped unless the Tory-led government reverses its decision to exclude glass.

The DRS is set to begin in March 2024, with the earlier start date forcing ministers to seek an exemption legislation which aims to ensure there are no trade barriers between the home 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.”

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.

The National: Dougal Sharp of Innis and Gunn

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.

READ MORE: Mark Drakeford: England is the 'outlier' in excluding glass from DRS

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.”

The National:

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.”