Small stores concerned over Deposit Return Scheme

Small stores concerned over Deposit Return Scheme

MPs have been made aware of concerns by small shops regarding the proposed new deposit return schemes. Westminster’s Environmental Audit Committee has recognised a number of challenges faced by small retailers in implementing a deposit return scheme.

The Association of Convenience Stores set out its recommendations for a scheme that is ‘workable and sustainable for all retailers and that has a meaningful impact on recycling rate’s. These include introducing a scheme that has the same scope in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to minimise the risk of fraud.

Including all sizes of packaging within the scope of the scheme as part of an ‘all-in’ model is also recommended as is setting the minimum deposit level at 20p. Cartons should also be included within the scope of the regulations, as should glass, subject to being able to be compacted (not crushed).

The committee acknowledges that there are safety concerns for small retailers around the inclusion of glass within the scheme, especially those who rely on collecting containers manually, and that these would need to be addressed for the committee to continue with its support for glass being included in scope.

Manual returns system

The Environmental Audit Committee report also recognises concerns raised by ACS about the difficulties of operating a manual returns system and the need for a well-designed set of return points. The committee said: “We welcome the approach to not specify the type of return point that retailers will be obligated to provide, given the challenges for small retailers for manual collection, and the possibility for future technological development. We also welcome that accessibility and ease of return is a crucial principle in the return point policy, although this should also be balanced against the cost of unnecessary duplication of reverse vending machines which are expensive.”

Well-designed scheme

In response, ACS chief executive James Lowman, said: “We welcome the committee’s recognition of the challenges faced by small stores who would be responsible for making a deposit return scheme work. Convenience stores are committed to working with government on developing an effective, well-designed scheme that boosts recycling rates, but which must not place unnecessary burdens on retailers.”