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Hospitality Industry Demands Unified Deposit Return Scheme Across UK and Ireland

Hospitality trade bodies from across the UK and Ireland have called on governments to work together on the creation of a unified deposit return scheme.

The United Kingdom and Ireland Licensed Trade Association – which brings together UKHospitality, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and Hospitality Ulster – met in Belfast this week.

In a joint statement from the groups, they urge the UK Government and the devolved administrations to “work in partnership with our industries to secure the future of hundreds of thousands of people, jobs and businesses”.

The body pointed to the deposit return scheme (DRS) – an initiative that would put an increased charge on disposable drinks containers to be paid back when they are returned.

Its statement added: “In particular, as the different jurisdictions move to introduce deposit return schemes, it is vital that there is collaboration between governments and the respective industry bodies to ensure interoperability between the UK nations and the Republic of Ireland markets, which are intrinsically linked.”

One such scheme was due to be put in place next year in Scotland, but the inclusion of glass was blocked by the UK Government over fears of its impact on other such schemes, prompting the Scottish Government to put the plans on hold until October 2025 at the earliest – when the UK Government’s DRS is due to be put in place.

The move was described as “sabotage” by the Scottish Government.

The statement continued: “As we have already seen there was a potential divergence in Scotland in relation to the inclusion of glass.

“From an industry perspective, two of the key asks are that we have one interoperable scheme throughout the UK nations and the Republic of Ireland, and that glass should be excluded.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government understands the importance of our hospitality sector to Scotland’s economy. We are aware of the enormous pressures facing businesses including the impact of inflation, energy prices, and higher costs of borrowing and are taking decisive steps to offer support during this crisis.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to the delivery of a successful deposit return scheme. We have always said that we want to ensure schemes across the UK work together as seamlessly as possible and are holding discussions across the four nations and with industry bodies in the UK and Ireland to achieve this.

“However, the onus is now on the UK Government to provide the clarity that is needed for the schemes to move forward.”

Source: Independent