THE firm contracted to deliver logistics for Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) has delivered a fierce warning against scrapping it, claiming to have already invested more than £65 million in preparation.

It comes after Humza Yousaf suggested that the whole scheme may be in jeopardy after the UK Government intervened to block it from including glass – despite having previously stated it was for devolved nations to choose the scope of any DRS.

Waste management firm Biffa’s chief executive officer, Michael Topham, said in a letter to the First Minister that while the Tory government’s action was “no doubt unwelcome”, putting an end to the DRS scheme would cause significant damage to the Scottish Government's reputation.

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Topham wrote: “Any decision to cancel or significantly delay the scheme beyond March 2024 sends a seismic and detrimental signal to all those businesses that are in principle willing to commit resources into helping the Scottish Government deliver on its ambitions, completely undermining its position as a legislator that can be relied upon.

“In my view the ramifications of this will be significant. Not only in terms of the urgent and immediate need for many businesses, who have invested in the scheme in good faith, to protect their financial position, but also in terms of attracting long-term outside investment in Scottish green infrastructure and related schemes in the future.”

Topham said Biffa, who in 2022 signed an agreement to become the DRS official logistics service provider, had “already invested over £65m in property, vehicles and counting equipment”.

He went on: “Our investment has been made in good faith, based on an expectation and understanding that the delivery of the scheme has been legislated by the Scottish Government, and that we would recover this investment over the coming decade.”

UK ministers wrote to the First Minister on Monday to tell him they would not allow glass to be included in the scheme to ensure “simplicity and interoperability” in the UK-wide market.

Yousaf had told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that failure to revoke the conditions set out by Westminster when they allowed a partial exemption to the Internal Market Act – which meant glass was not allowed in Scotland – would put the DRS in “grave danger”.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, schemes are expected to be rolled out from 2025, but in Scotland it was set to start in March next year – after being delayed from its original start date of August.

If it goes ahead as planned in 2024, Scotland’s DRS would see a 20p charge placed on drinks containers which would be refunded to consumers upon their return in a bid to increase recycling levels.

Yousaf and members of his Cabinet are to consider whether to press ahead with the scheme when they meet on Tuesday.