One of Scotland’s most recognizable drinks brands is among hundreds which have not signed up to a controversial new bottle recycling scheme.
Dougal Sharp, the founder of Innis and Gunn, questioned the legality of the scheme and raised concerns about its costs to businesses and consumers.
A total of 664 producers had signed up to the deposit return scheme by the Tuesday deadline.
It was initially estimated that about 4,500 producers would need to register.
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that number had now been revised to “below 2,000”.
She said the companies that have registered are responsible for 95% of drinks sold in single-use containers in Scotland.
The scheme is designed to boost recycling via a 20p deposit on single-use bottles and cans.
Registration will now be open until the scheme’s launch on August 16.
Mr Sharp told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland program that there were too many unanswered questions about the scheme, including whether or not it was legal.
The brewer said he had taken advice from lawyers before deciding not to sign up before a deadline on Tuesday.
He said that many companies “felt they had no choice” about joining the scheme as it would affect their ability to trade in Scotland from August 16.
But he feared the scheme would drive “enormous price pressure on consumers”.
“A four-pack of our lager might go from £5 to £7 – I think that’s a scandal in the middle of the biggest cost of living crisis we can remember,” he said.
Under the scheme, a 20p deposit will be added to all single-use drinks containers made of PET plastic, metal or glass.
Consumers can claim their money back by returning the container to retailers and hospitality premises that sell such single-use products to take away.
“You’ll get some of that money back, but you won’t get all of it back,” said Mr. Sharp.
“My great fear is that there aren’t enough reverse vending machines for people to return their cans and bottles to, and if there aren’t, how do you get money back?”
All three SNP leadership contenders have said that the scheme will not go ahead in its present form.
Kate Forbes and Ash Regan want to pause the scheme, while Humza Yousaf said he would exempt smaller firms for a year.
But Mr. Sharp said he wants it to be ditched.
“The scheme is going to destroy the existing [recycling] infrastructure and create new infrastructure,” he said.
“If that isn’t wasteful I don’t know what is. I think there are better ways to do it.”
He said some money from drink sales should be ringfenced to invest more in the existing recycling industry in Scotland instead of the new scheme.
Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said the scheme would still launch as planned on August 16 and registration for producers would be open until then.
The Scottish Greens co-leader said the industry had been challenged to “do their part to tackle the climate emergency” but she understood that there were concerns for small producers that the government was “systematically working to resolve”.
Speaking in Holyrood on Thursday, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross called the scheme a “complete disaster”.
He said the voices of businesses across Scotland had been ignored.
During First Minister’s Questions, he asked Nicola Sturgeon to clarify how many businesses should have signed up by the Tuesday deadline.
Ms Sturgeon said: “At the outset of introducing this scheme, it was estimated that there were around 4,500.
“However, significantly less than that will have to register because once groups of companies registering under one registration are identified, the estimated number of individual producers/importers will be below 2,000.”
She added: “The vast majority of products are actually produced by a relatively small number of producers.
“As of yesterday, more than 90% of the product and of the market is covered and that is the crucial point. If it was the reverse, that would be a problem.”
David Harris, Circularity Scotland chief executive, told BBC Scotland there had been “misinformation” and “misunderstandings” over Scotland’s scheme.
He urges anyone who feels that their business is going to be impacted by these regulations to contact Circularity Scotland.