Independent retailers in Scotland need to prepare now for the start of the deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers, which begins next summer, a leading waste management specialist has warned.
The DRS in Scotland is aiming to ensure that 90 percent of the drinks containers are recycled and prevented from becoming waste. Retailers will need to charge a refundable deposit of 20p on all drinks containers and pay back the deposit once the container is returned. The new rules apply to single use PET plastic, aluminium, steel or glass containers, ranging in size form 50ml up to 3 litres.
Carla Brian, the expert on DRS for waste management company Biffa, said: “If your business sells a single-use drinks container this legislation change affects you and your business as part of the Deposit Return Scheme. It’s not optional and businesses of all sizes are affected.”
“The Deposit Return Scheme offers a unique opportunity to revolutionise the way we recycle in the UK. Businesses will see themselves hitting sustainability goals that were previously unachievable with a large increase in the amount of products entering the circular economy,” Brian said.
Earlier this year, Biffa was appointed as the official logistics service provider for DRS in Scotland. As part of the agreement, Biffa will be responsible for collecting billions of drinks bottles and cans from return points across Scotland each year.
The company will also manage the bulking and counting centres, which will process material for recycling.
Most retailers will be affected by the new law, but there are exemptions for retailers which are within 400 metres of another return point, those that set up their own recognised voluntary return point, and those who can demonstrate that their premises are not suitable for operating the DRS.
Scotland’s DRS has also been marred with controversies. It has been raised that the scheme would force shoppers to pay an additional 20p charge when buying drinks in single-use containers, including glass or plastic bottles and cans.
Customers would be able to get their 20p back if they deposit their empty container in a specially-made return point at a shop or business.
The other UK countries are expected to announce their plans for deposit return schemes shortly.