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Scotland’s design of the deposit return scheme (DRS) should not be replicated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland given the significant impact it would have on small shops, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said.

Responding to a consultation launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs introducing a DRS for drinks containers, the ACS asked the government to consider monitoring the Scotland scheme before implementing it in the rest of the UK.

The submission said there was a strong consensus among retailers against the implementation of DRS fearing additional burdens and pressures on them. A survey of independent retailers cited lack of space in-store to process returns as a significant concern, it added.

“Retailers are concerned about the introduction of a deposit return scheme, including practical issues which must be considered including hygiene issues, limited space to store dirty bottles, pressure on staff and the increased queuing times that their customers would face,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.

“This is why we have called on the government to ensure that if they do introduce a deposit return scheme, that it works for small shops, by only having drinks containers taken back by reverse vending machines, taking a more strategic look at where return points should be located rather than mandating every retailer, exempting stores which are too small to facilitate a DRS, and targeting the scheme at on-the-go packaging.”

The government DRS consultation looked at two options on how a DRS could work in England: an ‘on-the-go’ model which would only include containers less than 750ml in size and sold in single format containers, and the ‘all in’ model which would be designed to also capture larger drinks containers.

The design of the DRS in Scotland, announced recently, covers all retailers, despite the demand from trade bodies to exempt small shops. The scheme will require small stores to install a reverse vending machines or opt for over-the-counter refunds.