The SNP-Green Government’s ill-fated bottle recycling scheme, which aimed to boost recycling rates by imposing a 20p deposit on single-use drink containers, has resulted in £86 million in losses, and the taxpayer potentially footing the bill. The Telegraph has the story.
Documents lodged by Circularity Scotland, the company set up to administer the postponed scheme, showed it had nearly £86.2 million of debts and liabilities when it went into administration in June.
This included £65 million owed to waste giant Biffa for the funds it invested preparing for the scheme. It had been tasked with collecting and recycling the bottles and cans collected.
Documents lodged with Companies House also showed £5 million was owed to Reverse Logistics Group, the preferred bidder for the scheme’s IT.
The Scottish Government is bracing itself for millions of pounds of compensation claims from companies left out of pocket, including thousands of drinks producers and retailers, with taxpayers on the hook.
SNP and Green ministers wanted to boost recycling rates by forcing buyers to pay an extra 20p deposit on single-use drinks containers, including cans and bottles, that would be refunded when returned.
Every outlet that sells takeaway drinks would have been required to act as a return collection point, with reverse vending machines outside supermarkets, community centres and other public places.
The U.K. Government said it would grant the scheme a conditional exemption from the Internal Market Act, which was needed for it to apply to drinks containers imported to Scotland from elsewhere, but glass bottles could not be included.
Lorna Slater, the Green minister in charge of the scheme, then delayed it until at least October 2025 despite Circularity Scotland making clear it could have gone ahead with just plastic containers and cans.
Drinks manufacturers and retailers then pulled their funding from the firm, forcing it into administration. The company has now lodged a 15-page ‘statement of affairs’ at Companies House detailing its assets and liabilities.
The long list of creditors included the British Soft Drinks Association, owed more than £3 million, Tennent’s, Coors, Carlsberg, Heineken, Lucozade, Ribena and Highland Spring.
Also owed money were Marks & Spencer and supermarket giants Aldi, Lidl, Co-op, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.