EXCLUSIVE: Scottish Grocers’ Federation denies legal challenge claims over DRS

'At present we have not raised judicial review proceedings'

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has denied claims that it lodged a legal challenge against the Scottish government, over the way it has embarked upon the deposit return scheme (DRS).

Reports made by The Grocer yesterday claimed the SGF was putting the scheme into jeopardy by seeking a judicial review and risked delaying it further.

The trade title suggested the trade body was disputing the impact assessment produced by ministers and the extent of the predicted environmental gains to be achieved from DRS.

However, the SGF exclusively told Better Retailing the claims were inaccurate. In a formal statement, it said: “Scotland’s DRS is fundamentally based on a centrally administered return to retail system. Therefore, the effective involvement of Scotland’s 5,000 convenience stores is vital in ensuring the successful implementation of DRS. Only the effective involvement of local convenience stores can ensure full Scotland-wide coverage and full consumer access to the scheme.

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“SGF has been fully committed to working with a range of stakeholders to ensure that Scotland has a world leading scheme. We were a key member of the Scottish government Industry Advisory Group, we are a founding member of Circularity Scotland Limited, where we represent the largest group of Return Point Operators; we are the convenience sector lead on the Scottish government Systems Wide Assurance Group.

“Our retail members have grown increasingly concerned about key challenges with the scheme design. We are also increasingly concerned about the approach taken by the Scottish government in developing the business case for DRS, concerned about the data and evidence used by the Scottish government to support the business case, and concerned about the parliamentary process in relation to the approval of the DRS regulations.

“As their trade body we must respond to the concerns of our retail members. The Federation has instructed our legal team to send a formal letter to the Scottish government. This letter lists our concerns in a very detailed, accurate and carefully considered way. At present we have not raised judicial review proceedings.

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“When we receive answers from the Scottish government, we will, in consultation with our retail members, consider our response in a balanced and measured way.

“We are disappointed that factually incorrect information has appeared in the press when, at all times, we have kept all our government dialogue confidential. Throughout this process SGF has acted with honesty and integrity, as such we are extremely concerned that other trade bodies have seen fit to make public statements based on this factually incorrect information.

“SGF remains committed to working with all of the key stakeholders to deliver a deposit return scheme within agreed timelines, which meets the needs of businesses, consumers and the environment.”

DRS is scheduled for implementation on 16 August 2023, following multiple pushbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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