Skip To The Main Content
12 September 2017

Bottle plan is empty vessel

It is overgenerous to say the Scottish Government has a bottle deposit scheme plan.  You could – Sir Humphrey style - describe it as an ambition.

With a hubris not seen in Scotland since the Edinburgh tram project, the Scottish Government has signed on the dotted line without reading the small print. I’m not sure they’ve read the large print either. Empty Bottles

Like the rest of the country, Scotland’s smaller firms wants a waste system which works. That’s why it is so alarming to see a major change announced, likely to impact tens of thousands of businesses, without so much as a scrap of detail about how the scheme will work in practice.

Last week, Ministers reversed their earlier decision to have an open consultation before any commitment. That’s bad policymaking – and goes against the Scottish Government’s own better regulation agenda.

Ministers don’t know how much it will cost taxpayers. Nor do they know how much it will cost businesses. Nor when it’ll happen. Or how it’ll work.

We’re committed to proposals which are hopelessly vague.

Sometimes we’re just talking about soft drinks bottles. Other times it is every milk carton, wine bottle and beer can. Sometimes it’s just retailers. Others it is every pub, off-license, deli and hotel.

Obviously storage is a problem for small firms. Would backroom stock have to go in order to fit in bottles? Or would an expensive waste contract have to be signed to ensure the returned bottles were picked up multiple times a week?

green grocer shopAnd it’s not just storage. The use of staff time to process bottles, when they could instead be tidying the shop, serving customers or refilling stock, raises capacity issues for already-stretched businesses.

Further, questions have been raised about how this would integrate with the current non-domestic and domestic waste systems, specifically kerbside recycling. Just to be clear, councils are none the wiser.

Before this initiative gets much further, Ministers need to get out of the Holyrood bubble and spell out to local businesses how exactly this is going to work. 


Andy Willox is Scottish Policy Convenor for the Federation of Small Businesses

This article first appeared on on 11/09/17 

See how FSB have campaigned on this issue

Lobbying & Campaigning from FSB

Find out more