Small businesses may not have to comply with Scotland’s bottle return scheme straight away, according to the circular economy minister.
Lorna Slater told the BBC she was “actively considering” a grace period.
SNP leadership candidates have now said they would propose changes to the scheme due to launch in August.
It is designed to boost recycling via a 20p deposit on single-use drinks bottles and cans.
Critics say the deposit return scheme will present significant costs and risks for businesses while putting more pressure on consumers.
In an interview with the Scottish Mail on Sunday Kate Forbes said any scheme had to “work for all of Scotland”.
“We need to identify why businesses are up in arms, how to adapt the scheme… and then deliver a scheme that is actually going to achieve its aims,” she said.
Meanwhile Health Secretary Humza Yousaf told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that he would exclude small businesses for the first year of operation if elected prime minister.
“It’s not the craft breweries or the craft gin makers causing the issue, it’s the big producers that we should be targeting,” he said.
Speaking more broadly about the SNP’s coalition with the Scottish Greens, Ash Regan told The Sunday Show: “We can’t have the tail wagging the dog.
“Now the SNP got 45% of the vote at the last election and the Greens only got 4% so we can’t be held hostage by that situation.”
Speaking to the BBC’s The Sunday Show, Ms Slater said Mr Yousaf was referring to a grace period which she was in discussions about.
She said she had spoken to businesses about their concerns ahead of the sign-up deadline on February 28, but added the scheme was “definitely going ahead”.
Ms Slater said: “There are two things in line here – one is signing up with the scheme administrator and the deadline for that is Tuesday. That is the registration process.
“In terms of actively getting their product on the shelf and make sure the labeling is right and so forth, we will then work with small producers going forward to bring them into the scheme in a pragmatic way that works for them. That’s two different deadlines .”
Recently Circularity Scotland, which is responsible for running the scheme, announced £22m of cash flow support to remove upfront charges from some companies.
But Dougal Sharp, founder of Scottish brewer Innis and Gunn, said there were still lots of unanswered questions which meant firms were faced with a “devil’s choice”.
Asked what would happen if he didn’t sign up to the scheme, he said business would be crippled as they couldn’t sell in Scotland.
He said: “If you take a step back from this and consider the huge risks that the whole scheme is placing on consumers through massive inflated costs, huge changes in behavior and complexity, and then of course for businesses – the significant costs and risks associated with the scheme.
“We’re urging an immediate pause and a rethink of this whole thing.”
On the possible grace period for smaller businesses, Mr. Sharp said there were lots of different sizes of firms and “almost all of them” would end up paying towards the cost of the scheme if it did not launch as planned.
He also pointed towards problems consumers may experience, such as long queues at return points.
“This is money the consumer will need back,” he said. “Budgets are squeezed, we know how much pressure the consumer is under in terms of household budget. This is putting more pressure on and bringing with it huge obligations on the consumer.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said it was “mind-boggling” that Ms Slater was considering a grace period for small firms so close to Tuesday’s deadline.
He also said the minister was unable to define what would constitute a small producer.
Scottish Lib Dem’s climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur called on the Scottish government to pause the scheme.
He added: “We cannot reasonably expect businesses to sign up to such a scheme when there is still such an acute lack of clarity.”