PROTESTERS gathered outside of Tesco Duloch Park to urge the supermarket giant to back Scotland's beleaguered Deposit Return Scheme.

The chain has been critical of the Scottish Government's planned recycling initiative, describing it as "not fit for purpose" and warning that it would lead to higher prices and confuse customers.

But the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland said further delays are a "betrayal of our environment" and, together with local litter picking group, Fife Street Champions, they gathered outside the Turnstone Road store to make their point.

Kat Jones, director of the association, said: "Everyone is trying to make changes to address the waste we produce and ensure a more sustainable Scotland.

"However, some, such as supermarkets, have far greater responsibility in doing so.

"At this stage, calling for further delays to the Scottish deposit return scheme is a betrayal of our environment."

The protesters had trolleys filled with cans and bottles taken from the streets of Dunfermline.

They said the three delays to the DRS had resulted in "2.7 billion drinks containers being littered, landfilled, or incinerated, and almost 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere".

Ms Jones added: "A deposit return scheme is a key circular economy policy which aims to address litter and waste.

"This week I received some online advertising from Tesco saying that they are 'committed to putting less plastic in your trolley' but are they committed to less plastic on our streets and in our countryside?"

Tesco has called for Scotland to take part in the UK-wide scheme instead of organising their own.

The already delayed Scottish Government scheme is now due to launch in 2024, while the UK Government's will start in late 2025.

In a recent report, Tesco warned that "multiple different approaches within the UK jeopardises the sustainability and viability of schemes and a joined-up approach across the UK must be adopted".

The future of the Scottish scheme is currently in doubt as ministers in Edinburgh and London clash over an exemption to the UK's Internal Market Act.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed that assessments for the DRS north of the border have yet to be submitted.

Lorna Slater, the Scottish Circular Economy minister, has disputed that and insisted that all the information necessary to grant an exemption has been provided.

The Internal Mark Act was brought in after Brexit to try and ensure frictionless trade across the different nations of the UK.

Concerns have been raised that because Scotland's scheme would come in before similar initiatives in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it could ultimately create a trade barrier.

Ms Slater has previously warned that without a decision from Whitehall by the end of the month, the scheme may not be viable.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Scottish Government should "reconsider" the DRS.