Falkirk Council: Councillors criticise Scottish Government over DRS information

Members of Falkirk Council’s executive have criticised the Scottish Government for the sudden delay to its Deposit Return Scheme.
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The council was been forced to extend its contract for black box kerbside recycling for another year after the Scottish Government’s sudden announcement that its bottle return scheme would be delayed until March 2024.

While that decision was taken by officers, members of Falkirk Council’s executive said on Tuesday that they wanted more clarity and improved communication so they could give better information to their constituents.

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In a rare show of cross-party unity, members of the SNP and the Conservatives agreed to back Labour’s amendment asking that Falkirk Council write to the Scottish Government to condemn the communication around the new scheme.

Falkirk councillors will hear the black box collections will be extended following the delay to DRSFalkirk councillors will hear the black box collections will be extended following the delay to DRS
Falkirk councillors will hear the black box collections will be extended following the delay to DRS

The Deposit Return Scheme will mean people are expected to start returning bottles and cans in return for 20 pence per item. Many supermarkets have already created ‘reverse vending machines’ for customers.

However, in April, the newly elected First Minister, Humza Yousaf, announced that the scheme would be delayed for ten months.

Labour councillor Euan Stainbank said: “This delay came without prior notice and the information from Government has now changed twice about the scheme and what it will look like.”

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Councilor Stainbank said his group understood the value of a deposit return scheme but added: “We need better information, better communication and a better approach to coordination from central government.”

The Labour group’s amendment also asked for a report after DRS scheme is implemented looking at what kind of impact the scheme is having on people with mobility issues. Again this was accepted unanimously by members of the executive.

The Conservative group also put forward an amendment that was accepted by all parties.

Councillor James Bundy said he was concerned that there could be further delays to the Deposit Return Scheme as there is still no agreement on the form it will take. He believes it is likely that the Scottish Government will adopt the UK’s chosen DRS, which does not include glass collection.

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The Conservatives suggested asking officers to bring back a report on the delivery of the black box kerbside collection if there is a further delay to DRS, or any changes which see the removal of glass from this scheme. This was accepted by all members.

Speaking after the debate, Cllr Bundy said: “I am pleased that my common-sense amendment about the black box kerbside collection was accepted. It was unacceptable that people in Falkirk faced having no black box kerbside collection, even if there was a further delay to the Deposit Return Scheme.

“The Falkirk Conservative amendment means that if the SNP/Green government announce a further delay to the Deposit Return Scheme, or exclude glass from the scheme, then a report will be brought back to the council to discuss the continuation of the provision of black box kerbside collection.”

Councillors also agreed to hold a consultation looking closely at recycling points around the district as their are concerns that some people will not have easy access to recycling once the black box collections finally stop.