DRS mustn’t hit pub customers

Holyrood pressed for clarity over proposed bottle plan

Additional costs have been forecast for the on-trade due to the DRS

By Jonathan Watt

THE Scottish Government has been urged to confirm that hospitality businesses will not be forced to charge customers extra as part of the deposit return scheme (DRS) for bottles and cans.

The scheme, which is currently being designed by Zero Waste Scotland, is expected to involve up to 20p being added to the price of each drinks container, which would then be given back to the consumer when they returned the empty container.

However, little detail has been revealed about how the system could work in the on-trade – be it a charge to operators who then receive the money back on collection of their disposable drinks containers, or if customers will be obligated to pay more for bottles and cans then receive the money back by returning them to the bar, provoking concerns about the additional costs and implications for licensed venues.

Colin Borland of The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland said the organisation has “substantial concerns” about a policy that “will mean that every Scottish pub, café, and restaurant will have to make big changes to their business”.

“A pressing issue for the on-trade is whether or not they should be exempt from passing the deposit on to their customers,” he said.

“Ministers should help to ease businesses’ fears by confirming this exemption as soon as possible.”

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) also voiced concerns about the scheme.

A spokesman for the group said: “We are currently examining possible ways it could operate, including a closed-loop system in the on-trade, which would effectively see an exemption for consumers at those establishments.

“Regardless, there would still be some added costs for pubs.”

Zero Waste Scotland chief executive, Iain Gulland, told SLTN the publicly-funded body is currently working to design “the most effective scheme for Scotland”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We will consult on a range of options for the new system this year, to ensure that we can design a scheme that works well for Scotland.”