Scottish Retail Consortium: “Disappointing Design may make Successful DRS Unachievable”

8th May 2019

In a preliminary response to the Scottish Government announcement on the System Design for a Deposit Return Scheme, SRC Head of Policy Ewan MacDonald-Russell said:



“Retailers have a strong track record on recycling, reducing the environmental impact of their operations, and supporting improvements throughout the supply chain. A successful DRS, working within a wider comprehensive strategy to reduce waste following producer responsibility reform, would herald an opportunity to drive further increases in recycling and reduce litter, over and above the existing household kerbside system.


“However, we are concerned the disappointing design unveiled by Ministers may make that unachievable. The inclusion of glass will add an additional £50 million per annum to the cost of running a DRS; a cost that will end up being paid by consumers. Glass is a difficult, bulky, and heavy material to manage and will be an enormous burden, especially for those operating from smaller stores.


“Similarly, charging ahead with a Scotland-only scheme rather than working collaboratively on a pan-UK approach may affect the range and price of those products in scope. For example, to prevent fraud, Scottish drink containers will need to be labelled differently from those in the rest of the UK. That will impose enormous costs on retailers and producers, and could even place a question mark over the economic viability of selling some products north and south of the border.


“These decisions, mean this scheme risks hampering retailers without effectively delivering the environmental improvements we all want to see. The upfront cost of this scheme is likely to be in excess of £100 million to purchase reverse vending machines alone. Consequently we will await any further news on what any financial support package will look like with significant interest.


“We hope MSPs will closely scrutinise the scheme to consider whether the evidence genuinely supports the model chosen; and challenge Government to put the necessary funding in place for retailers to allow the enormous investment in infrastructure the scheme will require. “


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