A LARGE drinks producer in the Wee County has signed up to Scotland's deposit return scheme, despite reservations, as plans to boost recycling came under criticism.

Alloa-based Williams Bros was among the 664 producers who had signed up to the deposit return scheme by last week's deadline.

Owners Scott and Bruce Williams spoke to the Advertiser's sister publication The Herald as they made preparations.

Scott explained it was still unclear at the time whether his brewery, which employs 70 people, will initially be exempt under last-minute changes announced.

“It’s just an added cost to our business,” he said.

“Producers are all pretty much down to our bare bones in terms of margin, so therefore if it’s going to cost us 4p or 5p per bottle more to transact from August, then we will have to pass that price on to the consumer.”

Scott also highlighted the uncertainty on VAT charges, which will be applied to the 20p deposits on all containers that are not returned through DRS.

Producers are ultimately responsible for paying this and will have to wait weeks or months before discovering how many of their containers have made it through the system.

He added: “What will happen is that manufacturers will have to take an educated guess on what they think their exposure might be and then either cost that in, or take a hit on it for a year and wait and see what it actually is, and then cost it in on another round of price increases."

It was initially estimated that some 4,500 producers would need to register; however, the first minister last week told MSPs this has been revised down to below 2,000.

The companies that have registered are responsible for 95 per cent of drinks sold in single-use containers.

The scheme has drawn criticism from Conservatives and producers such as Innis and Gunn.

MSP Alexander Stewart labelled it a “shambolic attempt at a DRS”.

He said last week: “This scheme in its current form will kill small businesses locally. Many from right across Stirling and Clackmannanshire have already contacted me directly and are desperately worried.”

Green MSP Mark Ruskell defended the scheme, saying there is a “desperate need” with bottles and cans blighting the streets and communities.

He said: “After all of the scaremongering and the misinformation we have seen from the Tories and others, we’ve seen a phenomenal registration rate, [which] shows a huge vote of confidence in Scotland’s deposit return scheme.

"Of course we're committed to getting things right and my colleague Lorna Slater has taken action to address the concerns of small independent retailers.

“But ongoing calls for delays to the scheme have sent out a reckless message to those trying to get on board.

“This scheme will go down in history as one of the most important pieces of work ever done by this parliament.

“It will be a turning point for Scotland’s relationship with litter and recycling.”