The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA), the trade association for Scotland’s food and drink wholesale businesses, has said it is “bitterly disappointed” that the deposit return scheme (DRS) draft regulations have been passed by the Scottish Parliament during the coronavirus disruption.

Wholesalers had urged MSPs to halt the Scottish Government’s deposit return scheme (DRS) ahead of the final Holyrood vote on the draft regulations this afternoon.

Colin Smith, SWA chief executive, said: “Scotland’s food and drink wholesalers will be bitterly disappointed that the DRS regulations have been passed by Parliament rather than being halted and revisited after Covid-19 disruption has dissipated.

“This is meant to be an evidence-based policy but the evidence on which it is built – container numbers, return points, queueing spaces, online food shopping – will have fundamentally changed as business exits Covid-19.

“Wholesalers and others in food and drink are already under intense pressure with some businesses fighting for their very survival – there will be no time or money to spend trying to assist the Scottish Government or a still-to-be formed Scheme Administrator to set up the DRS.”

Smith pointed out that while the revised July 2022 “go live” date announced in March was welcome, it “pre-dates Covid-19 and still needs manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to start planning now but no-one will”.

“We suggest that the Scottish Government will have to review this legislation again in six months to ensure that the policy objectives and business case still stack up in light of what the new economy will look like,” he said.

The Scottish Government wants to introduce a DRS scheme that will include plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), aluminium and steel cans, and glass bottles. Under the scheme, a 20p deposit will be applied each time one of those single-use drinks containers is sold.