Biffa seeks £200m compensation from Scottish Government over DRS delays

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Biffa is the Scottish Government’s chosen logistics partner for the scheme, which will see a refundable deposit applied to drinks packaging. Customers will only be able to collect deposit refunds when depositing their used bottles and cans for recycling. In this way, the scheme is intended to reduce littering and boost recycling rates.

Scotland had intended to launch a national DRS by 2021 before the Covid-19 pandemic. The date was subsequently pushed to August 2023, then March 2024, then October 2025.

A further delay to October 2027 is now possible, should Scotland wish to fully align with the UK Government’s plan for a four-nations DRS.

Biffa claims that these delays have led to £200m of losses sustained from investments plus losses of profits.

Biffa was selected by Circularity Scotland, the firm which was due to manage the scheme, as its logistics partner in 2022. Circularity Scotland later went into administration with debts and liabilities reportedly exceeding £86m. The logistics partnership saw Biffa appointed to collect all containers across Scotland for ten years.

A Biffa spokesperson said the firm “invested significant sums” to support a “timely and successful implementation” of the DES.

“This was done in good faith and on the expectation and understanding that the delivery of the scheme had been mandated by the Scottish Government.

“Having carefully reviewed our position with our advisors, we can confirm that we are taking legal action to seek appropriate compensation for the losses Biffa has incurred.”

Scotland’s Court of Session held a short virtual hearing,  the first in the proceedings, earlier this week. Roddy Dunlop KC confirmed that he will represent Biffa, while Gerry Moynhan KC stated that he will advocate for the Scottish ministers.

The Scottish Government has told media representatives that it does not comment on ongoing litigation.

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