Welsh Government Warned of Risks of Deposit Return Scheme

Independent brewers across Wales urge Government to avoid pitfalls of adopting Scottish Deposit Return Scheme

Wales’s small independent brewers have today written to the Welsh Government and Members of the Senedd, urging them to support small businesses by avoiding the pitfalls of Scotland’s much criticised Deposit Return Scheme.

The letter, published today by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) Chairman Roy Allkin on behalf of 30 Welsh breweries, warns the Welsh Government against following Scotland’s lead on DRS. Stating that Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme – which is two years ahead of Wales in its development and on which the Welsh Government is basing much of its own design – is at danger of being a “very costly failure”.

Roy Allkin, Chairman of SIBA and MD and Owner of Swansea’s Boss Brewing, commented:

“We need to get the Deposit Return Scheme for Wales, right. Small independent brewers are committed to playing their part in a sustainable future. Indeed, as well as their contribution to our local economies, SIBA members often lead the sector on sustainability and innovation.

“But the Welsh Government need to step up. They must hear the warnings from Scotland, on which they are basing their own scheme, engage with SIBA, and design something better – the risks of inaction must be avoided.

“It’s possible, if the Welsh Government and Senedd listen to the voices of small independent brewers across Wales, to design a fair policy. Some members of the Senedd are taking action, and this is welcome – but it’s time for the First Minister and the Minister for Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy to work with us too”.

Buster Grant, SIBA Wales & West Director and co-author of the letter, added:

“Small independent Brewers are keenly aware of their environmental footprint and take efforts to reduce their impact, be more sustainable, and to encourage recycling wherever possible. But the issue here is not about lack of support for recycling schemes, it is about ensuring that scheme achieves its objectives and has a positive impact overall. A scheme which threatens to put breweries out of business whilst not achieving its core aims is one which needs urgent and drastic review, which is exactly what we are proposing.”

The letter also cites a report by Scotland’s influential cross-party group on beer and pubs, which highlights “unintended and negative consequences” of their scheme, including the issue that consumers could face higher prices and a smaller range of products available as producers may choose to invest less in Scotland owing to new costs and complexities.

For smaller brewers, the cost of operating across different schemes across the UK becomes unaffordable. In fact, the group “heard overwhelming evidence” that it would be far easier to design one pan-UK scheme.

In order to ensure the continued survival of Wales’s small brewing industry, and the economy it brings to Wales, SIBA have offered to work with the Welsh Government to get the design of the future deposit return scheme right.

Read the letter in full here