Retailer handling fees of Scottish DRS announced

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Circularity Scotland, the scheme administrator for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), has revealed the handling fee for return point operators.

As announced to the industry, retailers will receive 2.69p per item returned by manual takeback (over the counter, placing the returned items into bags or tote boxes).

For those using reverse vending machines (RVM), the rate will be 3.55p for the first 8,000 items returned each week, with 1.35p for each additional item.

These rates will be applicable for the scheme’s first year of operation, which is scheduled to go live in August 2023.

The handling fee, designed to cover the costs of the time, equipment and additional storage space needed to operate the scheme, is in addition to the refund of the 20p deposit paid by the retailer to the customer.

The rate to be paid for items collected for online order customers has yet to be determined.  A different rate also applies for hospitality venues. These amounts will only be paid on “in scheme” containers.  An app will be available to allow retailers to check containers. Reverse vending machines check the container automatically.

The Federation of Independent Retailers said they are in discussions with RVM suppliers about the cost of their machines and calculating the number of returns needed per week to make an RVM economically viable.

“We understand that retailers will be required to register with Circularity Scotland from December 2022,” the trade body said, urging members to appointed the NFRN as their representatives to the scheme. “The more retailers who appoint us, the greater our voice within the scheme.”

Earlier this week, Scottish National Investment Bank has pledged to invest £9 million into Circularity Scotland Limited to cover the start-up costs of the scheme.