The launch of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) will be delayed until at least October 2025.
The long-awaited recycling scheme was scheduled to launch in March next year.
Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said she had been left with no choice after the UK government imposed a number of significant conditions, most notably the removal of glass from the scheme.
The delay means the Scottish DRS is now likely to go live at the same time as other parts of the UK, a move that several major retailers and drinks companies have long favoured.
Addressing Parliament, Ms Slater said: “As of today, it is now clear that we have been left with no other option than to delay the launch of Scotland’s DRS, until October 2025 at the earliest based on the UK Government’s current stated aspirations.
“I remain committed to interoperable DRS schemes across the UK provided that we can work in a spirit of collaboration not imposition. I wrote again last night to the UK Government, to urge ministers to reset a climate of trust and good faith to galvanise and retain the knowledge that has been built in Circularity Scotland and DRS partners in Scotland.”
When it is finally introduced, the DRS will see a 20p charge placed on drinks containers which will be refunded to consumers once they return the bottles and cans. Larger stores, shopping centres and community hubs will operate reverse vending machines for people returning their containers.
The latest postponement has caused anger north of the border, particularly among retailers and other businesses who have spent vast sums converting parts of their premises to accommodate the reverse vending machines for consumers to return single use containers.
Ms Slater added: “This Parliament voted for a Deposit Return Scheme. I am committed to a Deposit Return Scheme. Scotland will have a Deposit Return Scheme. It will come later than need be. It will be more limited than it should be. More limited than Parliament voted for.
“These delays and dilutions lie squarely in the hands of UK Government that has sadly seemed so far more intent on sabotaging this parliament than protecting our environment.”
Kat Jones, Director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland, which has campaigned for a DRS, said: “This is a bleak day for anyone who cares about Scotland’s litter crisis, or indeed the global climate crisis.”