'Embarrassing': Row deepens between Greenpeace and Scottish Greens over bottle scheme

18 November 2021, 07:55

Lorna Slater announced that the long-awaited bottle deposit return scheme (DRS) was being delayed.
Lorna Slater announced that the long-awaited bottle deposit return scheme (DRS) was being delayed. Picture: Getty
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

A delay to the introduction of a flagship environmental scheme in Scotland has been branded "shambolic" and "embarrassing" by Greenpeace in an increasingly hostile row between the campaign organisation and the Scottish Green Party.

Scottish Green minister, and the party’s co-leader, Lorna Slater yesterday announced in Holyrood that the long-awaited bottle deposit return scheme (DRS) was being delayed and was unable to say when it might come into force.

Prior to entering government with the SNP Ms Slater had condemned the Scottish Government for delaying the scheme.

Greenpeace yesterday tweeted criticism of the predicted delay announcement and Nina Schrank, Senior Plastics Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "This shambolic delay to the long awaited deposit return scheme is embarrassing for a government which loves to shout about its green credentials.

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"They haven’t even given a clear timeline for any delay, which might even put the future of this vital scheme into doubt. Every year of delay means millions more bottles being dumped or burned. The deposit return scheme was a flagship environmental policy for the Scottish government, and they’ve kicked the can down the road yet again."

Her comments will likely deepen a row between Greenpeace and the Scottish Greens which broke out during CoP26.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said the organisation "did not understand Scotland" in response to its condemnation, along with Friends of the Earth Scotland, of the Scottish Government’s lack of a call for a ban on future drilling for oil at Cambo, in the North Sea off the Shetlands.

Mr Greer was backed by Scottish Greens co-leader, and government minister, Patrick Harvie.

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On Tuesday for the first time Nicola Sturgeon did state that she did not believe the Cambo oil field should be "given the green light" by the UK’s oil and gas regulator.

However Ms Schrank added: "The public shouldn’t let the Cambo announcement, significant as it was, hide the fact that this Scottish Government is delaying urgently needed environmental action once again.

"Deposit return schemes work, that’s been proven elsewhere, so why on earth is the Scottish Government choosing to delay?"

In parliament Ms Slater said the DRS scheme had been delayed as a result of the Covid pandemic, Brexit and a move by the UK Government to apply VAT to deposit returns.

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"While It is frustrating that DRS looks to be delayed, with Greens in government we will deliver this ambitious scheme ahead of what will be a predictably weak UK scheme influenced by vested interests," she said.

"The Scottish scheme will be huge and will include every can, every glass and plastic drinks bottle with far more return points than we have seen in other countries."

Scottish Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba said the delay demonstrated the government had "caved to lobbyists".

"The SNP and the Scottish Greens are all too happy to backslide on their environmental commitments time and time again," she said.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Retail Consortium Head of Policy, said the delay was "farcical and needs urgently resolved."