The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has told Scottish MSPs that retailers need further clarifications on the implementation of the proposed deposit return scheme in Scotland.
Speaking at an evidence session held by the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, ACS head of policy and public affairs Edward Woodall urged the Scottish Government to consider the impact of the scheme on local shops, emphasising the operational, cost and time pressures that the draft regulations would have on the colleagues in store.
“We are pleased that the regulations offer retailers potential exemptions on their obligations to operate a return point based on ‘reasonable proximity’, but further clarification is needed on the application process, assessment criteria and how this will work in practice,” he said.
Scottish government has initially included all shops when it announced the design of the scheme in May this year, but allowed exemptions for small retailers in the draft regulations laid before the parliament later in September.
To be eligible for exemption, retailers are required to have an alternative return point ‘located with reasonable proximity to the premises’, with the operator of the return point agreeing to accept the returned items on behalf of the retailer.
Woodall also called for a ‘strategically mapped’ retrun point network to ensure a workable system for retailers.
“Locations of returns points should be evidenced-based, taking into account capacity, proximity and consumer demand in order to develop a more efficient and cost-effective system for the whole of Scotland,” he said.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has recently announced business rates relief for retailers required to accept the return of single-use drinks containers.
As per the regulations, the deposit will be set at 20p and materials will include: PET plastic, steel, aluminium and glass drinks containers.
The government intends to complete the legislative process by February 2020 with the scheme going live in April 2021.