Biffa preparing £100m lawsuit against Scottish government over DRS



Waste firm Biffa has “threatened” to sue the Scottish government for £100 million over its failed deposit return scheme (DRS), according to a report in the Daily Record.

Biffa was the Scottish DRS’s official logistics service provider and had invested over £65 million in preparation for the scheme before it was delayed until at least October 2025. Biffa declined to comment when approached by Circular Online.

The Scottish scheme was scrapped after the UK Government declined a request for full exclusion from the Internal Market Act. This meant that Scotland could not include glass in its DRS. Following the decision, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater accused the UK government of sabotage.

Before the delay was announced, Biffa CEO Michael Topham told Humza Yousef that cancelling or significantly delaying the DRS would send a “seismic and detrimental signal” to businesses involved and called for the scheme to proceed without glass.

Reacting to the potential lawsuit, Ex-SNP rural affairs minister Fergus Ewing described it as “shocking” and questioned whether others would follow Biffa’s lead. The British Soft Drinks Association confirmed to Circular Online it was seeking compensation from the Scottish government last year.

The launch of Scotland’s DRS was delayed until at least October 2025 last year.

However, first minister of Scotland Humza Yousef has previously ruled out paying compensation to businesses that invested in Scotland’s DRS on the basis it would go live before other UK nations and include glass. Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Yousef said he doesn’t believe there is a “case” for the Scottish government paying compensation.

Ewing also called for a ministerial statement and said the Scottish government “must answer how many more tens of millions of pounds the bottle scheme will cost the taxpayer”. The Scottish Government told the Daily Record it wouldn’t comment on a legal threat from Biffa and said it was “committed to the delivery of a successful DRS”.

Last year, the scheme administrator for Scotland’s DRS Circularity Scotland collapsed with debts and liabilities of over £86 million, filings revealed, putting 60 jobs at risk.

Scotland’s scheme was thrown into further doubt last week when the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay told MPs the 2025 DRS start date was “unrealistic” and 2027 was now “more likely”.

Barclay also said the UK government would decline a request from the Welsh government for full exclusion from the Internal Market Act, which would have allowed them to collect glass as part of its DRS. The Environment Secretary also emphasised his desire for any DRS to be aligned across all UK nations.

“I am not in a position to give an exact date because, as a Unionist, one of the things that has been very important to me is we have an approach that is interoperable across the UK,” Barclay told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

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