My Column

We cant bottle it over deposit plan

  • Date: Monday 9th January 2023
column Picture

Scotland’s upcoming Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has stimulated a huge amount of debate since it was first proposed several years ago.


When it goes live on August 16, consumers will be required to pay a 20p deposit when they buy a drink in a plastic or glass bottle, or metal can. They’ll get that back when they return the container to a recycling point, of which there are set to be over 17,000 across the country.


It’s not that strange a concept for many Scots…if you’re my age at least.  Remember back in the day when we used to take Barr’s bottles back to the shop to get the deposit back? Think of it like that but on a much larger scale than anything we’ve ever seen before here in Scotland.


This time around, retailers won’t just collect bottles back manually, we’ll also see automated ‘reverse vending machines’ in place at some of the larger return points which will modernise the process.


Zero Waste Scotland says the scheme will offer a wide range of environmental and economic benefits. Meanwhile scheme operator Circularity Scotland says on its website that it will cut emissions by around 160,000 tonnes of CO2 each year – the equivalent of taking 83,000 cars off the road in the UK. 


There’s no denying this will mean big changes for retail business owners, and some have voiced concerns around issues like cost implications, price labelling, and collection logistics. 


David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retailer Consortium, has previously discussed the “enormous logistical exercise” and reportedly criticised a “lack of rudimentary information” from those running the scheme. 


And now a legal challenge has just reared its head, brought by Lanarkshire-based convenience store owner Abdul Majid. Retailers are set to receive handling fees for every container they take back, but Majid has raised concerns that these won’t be enough to cover costs.


Circularity Scotland has defended the scheme by highlighting that the return handling fees for Scotland’s DRS will be the highest of any scheme in the world.


However Majid’s challenge has been given the green light by the Scottish Court of Session which means the case will be heard in the next three months.  If the court finds in Majid’s favour, the consultation may have to be rolled out all over again which could further delay the launch of the scheme.


This would no doubt cause a real headache for the Scottish Government which has spent years consulting and planning, and set its sights on achieving a recycling rate of 90% by 2024. With the launch date now fast-approaching, it will have been hoping for a smooth roll-out.


At this crucial stage, if the operators want to make a success of it, it is so important that members of the public and business owners are well informed, understand the rationale behind it, understand the nuts of bolts of how it will work in practice, and the benefits.


In theory I think it’s a fantastic idea, and one that has been put into practice in lots of different locations around the world already.


Similar schemes are already incredibly successful in almost 50 jurisdictions including Norway, Sweden, Latvia.  Denmark is often heralded as a prime example of a country whose DRS has been widely adopted with a redemption rate of 93 per cent for drinks containers.   


I totally appreciate the concerns of small business owners as this is a big change which will take time to adjust to.  Set against a backdrop of the ongoing cost of living crisis, it’s understandable that they’re looking for answers and reassurance that this scheme won’t affect their bottom line. 


However, it’s clear that we need to take steps to address climate change sooner rather than later, and this scheme has proven to be successful in so many other countries that it makes sense to introduce something similar here. 


Its roll out has the potential to make a hugely positive difference and really put Scotland on the map along with those other countries which have taken the leap and brought in deposit return.


I sincerely hope these concerns can be ironed out ahead of the scheme’s launch date, so business owners are fully on board by the time everything goes live. 





If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the expression ‘new year, new you’ since the Bells I’d be a very rich man indeed.


As many people begin eating a little healthier and heading to their local gym to meet new fitness goals, one Scottish gym has got its marketing off to a strong start with the help of some world class talent.


Uddingston-based strength training equipment manufacturer, Primal, has kickstarted the year by announcing a partnership with The World’s Strongest Man 2022, Tom Stoltman, and his brother Luke Stoltman, who was crowned Europe’s Strongest Man in 2021.


The partnership will see the firm’s equipment redesigned and installed in Stoltman Strength Centre in Invergordon.


Known for lifting wrecking balls, pulling buses with sheer grit strength, and generally pushing the limits of what human bodies are capable of in strongman competitions, the Stoltman brothers have signed a weighty two-year deal as brand ambassadors for Primal. 


Following a multi-million-pound investment into the business back in 2021 from Flywheel Partners to accelerate the company’s growth, Primal has become a pretty big name in Scotland’s fitness industry, with a client base that boasts JD Gyms, UFC Gyms and Celtic Football Club.


Chief Executive Steven Rinaldi says Primal’s mission is ‘to help people unlock the strength that is within them, whether it’s first-time gym goers or fit-for-lifers’.


Primal is clearly showing its desire to be a heavyweight in the health and fitness sector by linking up with these two Scottish titans and I have no doubt it will play a part in unlocking the strength and potential of this booming Scottish start-up. 





Love it or loathe it, the circus of business that is BBC’s The Apprentice is once again back on our screens.


I’ve always found the show fascinating in a ‘I’m cringing but I still can’t look away’ sort of way.


I never fail to get a chuckle from watching a bunch of ambitious (yet sadly often clueless) wannabe tycoons as they embark on tasks.  You can tell pretty quickly which ones have great potential and which ones are full of hot air (and too much ego) as they deliver terrible pitches to bewildered industry experts on topics that they so obviously know nothing about.


However, Scotland’s first ‘apprentice’ in years, Reece Donnelly, is pitching himself to Lord Sugar in this newest season for a chance to act out his business dreams. The Glasgow entrepreneur and founder of the Theatre School of Scotland already has an impressive portfolio in the Scottish acting world so let’s hope he takes centre stage for all the right reasons.





The season of goodwill may officially be behind us, but I was heartened this week to read about an Edinburgh pizza joint which offered a topping of community support to kick start the new year.


Marc Wilkinson, owner of Morningside takeaway Pure Pizza announced the eatery will be providing free pizzas for all residents of the Capital throughout January to ensure they are fed despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.


I must admit I was stunned to read about this gesture which must have had his accountants weeping, because the move could cost the business a whopping £12,000.


But the entrepreneur reckons the gesture could encourage other businesses to play a part in supporting their local communities.  


What an incredibly thoughtful thing to do at a time when so many are feeling the pinch.



Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive