Martin Whitfield MSP is backing a call by his South Scotland colleague, Colin Smyth, for Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, to resign following her role in the mounting chaos around the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The Scottish Government’s flagship recycling scheme has come under fire for various unresolved issues, including the potential damage to small businesses, cross-border difficulties, and its effect on existing recycling facilities.

Last week during a Holyrood debate Labour called for a delay in the scheme for small producers – but this was voted down by Green and SNP MSPs. Days later Lorna Slater announced it was now being “actively considered”, adding to the uncertainty on the scheme.

The most recent blow to the scheme came when the Scottish Secretary confirmed that the UK Government has “not been asked for an exemption for this under the rules of the UK Internal Market Act 2020 by the Scottish Government”, despite Lorna Slater writing to MSPs on 9 February claiming, “the formal process for excluding the deposit return scheme regulations from the Internal Market Act is well underway”.

With hours to go before the deadline for businesses to register for the scheme, Lorna Slater was unable to confirm what would happen to businesses that fail to sign up by midnight but seek to opt-in at a later stage.

Commenting, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“Action to boost recycling rates in Scotland and to get our ambitions on net zero back on track is vital, but Lorna Slater’s farcical handling of the Deposit Return Scheme has delivered nothing but chaos and confusion for businesses.

“Across the world successful Deposit Return Schemes have been implemented, yet this SNP-Green government have refused to learn from them and instead stubbornly ignored multiple warnings about the flaws in their scheme.

“Now even the government’s own Finance Secretary has publicly attacked the scheme for leaving businesses ‘fearing for their future’ and being likely to cause ‘economic carnage’, while calling for it to be paused.

“Ms Slater has lost control of this scheme and lost the confidence of Scotland’s small businesses. If the DRS is to have any chance of being a success it is time for her to stand aside and let someone else try and rescue it.”