Plans for a deposit return program for cans and bottles in Scotland have undergone changes.
Concerns had been expressed regarding how the recycling program would affect small businesses.
The organization in charge of the program, which will launch in August, has now disclosed additional support for small businesses.
£22 million in cashflow support was announced by Circularity Scotland to help some businesses avoid paying upfront fees.
Green MSP Lorna Slater, the responsible minister, claimed that the action would give businesses "the clarity and confidence they need" to participate in the system.
Opposition parties nevertheless want the plans delayed so they can be examined.
The "last-minute" changes, according to the Scottish Conservatives, were an admission of its poor design.
The deposit return scheme (DRS), which offers a financial incentive to recycle and pick up litter, aims to increase recycling rates for some bottles and cans.
All items sold in Scotland will now have a 20p deposit added to their price.
When the customer returns the empty container to a return point, whether it be an automated reverse vending machine or a store counter, they can receive their money back.
Producers must register for the program by the end of the month in order to disclose how many products they plan to sell on the Scottish market. Deposits and fees will then be invoiced to them.
Numerous small businesses have expressed concern that, while they agree with the general sentiment, the plan will put an undue burden on them as they work to recover from the Covid pandemic.
They are especially concerned about how paying deposits and administrative fees in advance will affect their cash flow. They are also under pressure to produce special barcodes for products going to the Scottish market.
Companies selling fewer than three million units annually will not be required to pay deposits or fees for the first month of the DRS, according to Circularity Scotland, a private non-profit organization established to administer the scheme.
Additionally, producers will be given a two-month payment grace period.
Stick-on barcodes will also be an option for businesses that produce fewer than 25,000 units annually.
For each product they produce that is intended for sale in Scotland, producers must pay the administrator of the program a small fee in addition to the 20p deposit.
When they sell their goods to wholesalers, who then pass them on to retailers, they can recover the 20p by including it in the price of their goods. .
The customer ultimately pays an additional 20p for the bottle or can after the deposit is passed along the supply chain.
When a customer returns a used container to a return point—either in person or using a reverse vending machine—they receive this money back. .
Retailers will serve as return points and reimburse customers using their own funds, but they can then request reimbursement from the administrator of the program.
The changes, according to circular economy minister Lorna Slater, should address a lot of the issues brought up by smaller producers like craft brewers.
"It addresses initial cash flow issues and offers a practical and straightforward solution to the concerns raised about barcodes for smaller product lines," she said.
"This package provides the clarity and confidence that businesses need to participate in Scotland's deposit return scheme. ".
The Scottish Conservatives, who have demanded a halt to the plan, asserted that the "last-minute" changes represented an admission of the plan's flaws.
The sudden discovery of $22 million just days before the deadline for firms to register, according to MSP Maurice Golden, "is not enough to make it fit for purpose in its current form.".
"Lorna Slater should swallow her pride and accept that the scheme should be immediately suspended for an independent review to address the many business concerns, rather than making this desperate attempt to save face. ".
A well-designed plan, according to Mr. Golden, could be advantageous, but in its present form, it is impractical.