DRS deposit return scheme recycle bottles GettyImages-1449874749

Supermarkets and drinks companies appear to have called time on Circularity Scotland Limited, the industry-backed body set up to run the UK’s first deposit return scheme, which now appears certain to face collapse.

In a joint statement on Friday, the BSDA, BBPA and the Scottish Retail Consortium said having invested “tens of millions” in CSL, companies were no longer prepared to pump money in given the political chaos that has seen DRS repeatedly delayed.

The move looks set to see up to 650 jobs lost, with CSL staff having been sent home from work by their employers and warned they may not be paid for the rest of the month.

The spectacular fall of the not-for-profit body comes after the Scottish government pulled the plug on plans for the launch of DRS in Scotland in March last year, following opposition to its plans from Westminster. This followed three previous delays, with October 2025 the latest date set by ministers for it to begin.

It also poses huge questions over how the industry can be persuaded to pump money into running a system across the UK. The Grocer revealed two weeks ago that Defra had begun talks with industry on how a scheme administrator would work south of the border.

The supermarkets and suppliers behind CSL had hoped the body, which was only approved as the scheme administrator in Scotland in 2021, could serve as a model for the rest of the UK.

But sources have told The Grocer that having had their fingers burned, there is now huge reluctance among different sectors to invest heavily, unless politicians can prove they have a united vision for the rollout of DRS.

“Our members have collectively invested significant time and tens of millions of pounds in good faith to help establish a scheme administrator in Scotland to meet a deadline originally set by the Scottish government,” said the statement.

“Sadly, a high degree of political uncertainty has now disrupted plans and timings, putting the future of Circularity Scotland Limited (CSL) at risk.

“Given this ongoing political uncertainty we don’t have the confidence required to provide further voluntary funding for the company. It is now a matter for the CSL board to determine how it wishes to administer the company’s affairs.”

A spokesman for the CSL board said: “The unfortunate reality is that, at this point, we are not able to confirm whether our staff will be paid for this month or whether they will be able to return to the office.

“The board recognises that this is an extremely difficult time for our people and is working tirelessly to find a solution. We have remained in communication with our staff throughout and will provide updates to them at the earliest possible time.”

Drinks producers and retailers said thery remained committed to working with the UK government to operate an “aligned and interoperable” DRS but said without political agreement it faced huge barriers.