ANY move by the UK Government to exclude glass from Scotland’s can and Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is clearly an attack on both our environment and our democracy.

Even by their standards, it’s a shockingly short-sighted move.

The scheme itself is very simple. Whenever we buy a can or bottle from a shop we would pay a 20p deposit on it, which we would get back upon returning it to one of the thousands of return points that will be set up across Scotland.

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It is all set to go live in a matter of months, but the UK government is using a tool called the Internal Market Act to undermine it.

It’s an anti-democratic blocking device that was brought in as a result of a disastrous Brexit that Scotland rejected and after our parliament had voted to support our scheme.

Scotland isn’t reinventing the wheel. There are similar schemes being used in more than 40 countries around the world.

Where they have been introduced they have been effective, and have had a huge impact in terms of increasing rates of recycling and cutting waste and tackling litter. What they mean is cleaner, safer streets and a better environment around us.

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There is a reason why the vast majority of schemes already include glass. That is the high carbon footprint that comes from making it, which is even higher than that of plastic or aluminium.

Why would anyone who cared about our climate want to exclude such a widely used and damaging product?

Over 550 million glass bottles are sold in Scotland every year. It makes utterly no environmental sense to exclude them.

Broken littered glass is also a dangerous menace to wildlife and people and can even cause wildfires. Deposit Return Schemes create a value to returning bottles and cut littering.

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That is why, in 2020, our Parliament voted overwhelmingly to establish a scheme that included glass. It is why the Welsh Government is in the process of building its own scheme that also includes it.

The case is so strong that even the Tory Party used to embrace it. They had an unequivocal commitment to a DRS that included glass as part of the 2019 manifesto that every single Tory MP was elected on.

By wading in and interfering like this they are undermining our environment, driving a coach and horses through devolution and condemning our communities to more years of broken glass littering our streets and making our parks and beaches more dangerous.

If they go ahead with their threat then they will have stuck two fingers up to our parliament and to all of the businesses across our country who have already invested millions and recruited hundreds of staff to make the scheme a success.

It would expose the lengths that Westminster will go to in order to undermine political and environmental progress.

The Scottish Government will have to reflect very hard on this while it decides its next move. But I suspect this outrageous environmental travesty will spill out far beyond Scotland’s borders, and right up to the gates of Downing Street.

Environmental charities, campaigners and business groups will now be reading the media reports and looking towards the UK Government’s own diluted deposit scheme nervously, and asking how and why the Tories quite literally lost their bottle.