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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has urged the Scottish government to pause the deposit return scheme after business leaders raised concerns.

Jack told the Scottish Mail on Sunday that a UK-wide scheme would maximise environmental benefits and minimise disruption to the drinks industry.

He said: “The last thing we want to do is rush into this and cause unnecessary difficulties for businesses in Scotland, particularly when many are still recovering from the effects of the Covid pandemic and are having to deal with increased costs due to the war in Ukraine.”

Jack added: “It is not too late to think again and so I am calling on the Scottish government to pause its scheme and work with us to design a system that works for the whole UK.”

In addition, former Business Minister Fergus Ewing told BBC programme The Sunday Show that the Scottish government forging ahead with the plan would be like the captain of the Titanic deliberately setting off to hit the iceberg.

Ewing said: “I think there needs to be a halt. The scheme cannot go ahead as planned in August.

“It simply will not work and it will be worse for the environment because it will add millions of car miles, with people taking the material back to the return points and with the vans collecting it therefrom.

“I think we need to pause for at least 18 months. And that was the recommendation of the government’s own review. It said that businesses need 12 to 24 months and 18 months was specifically identified as perhaps the right period.”

It is thought the DRS could be challenged as a result of the post-Brexit Internal Market Act that ensures that goods that have been produced in, or imported into, one part of the UK and comply with relevant requirements there, can then be sold in any other part of the UK without adhering to different regulatory requirements.

The comments follow a recent open letter from trade associations warning that thousands of small producers in Scotland don’t have the money and capacity to get ready in time for the deposit return scheme.