Scottish DRS: Retailer takes scheme administrator to court over handling fees

Scottish DRS
Photo: iStock

Veteran retailer Abdul Majid has raised judicial review proceedings against Circularity Scotland Limited (CSL), the administrator of the Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

Majid, who runs the Costcutter store in Bellshill, is challenging the legality of the retailer handling fees, which CSL are seeking to impose on retailers, at the Court of Session.

Abdul Majid (Photo: Sarwar Foundation)

The veteran retailer said he is concerned that that the retailer handling fee levels will not cover his costs following the introduction of the DRS and will be detrimental to his business both in the short and long term thereby threatening the viability of his store which provides key services and groceries to his local community in Bellshill.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed the move by its former president.

“For a long period of time the SGF has been trying, unsuccessfully to have Circularity Scotland Limited review the retailer handling fee to bring about a more balanced and fair position with this. An independent retailer, Abdul Majid MBE, has now made the decision to take this very same issue forward for Judicial Review,” Pete Cheema, SGF chief executive, said.

“SGF supports the aims of the judicial review proceedings which convenience retailer Abdul Majid MBE has brought, on his own behalf, against Circularity Scotland Limited. It is essential that DRS remains cost neutral to Return Point Operators and does not leave them with an additional cost burden or put them out of business.”

Cheema noted that thousands of local convenience stores are at risk due to insufficient funding through ‘an inadequate and potentially illegal’ retailer handling fee structure.

“They are faced with the choice of taking on a significant financial burden to set up Reverse Vending Machines, with no means of properly recovering this cost through the scheme, or being forced out the scheme altogether and risk losing all their footfall to large businesses,” he said, adding that the trade body remains fully committed to a fit for purpose scheme.

“But for that to happen recognition must be given and action taken to address the concerns around retailer handling fee levels which has been raised in Mr Majid’s petition,” he said.

He urged the Scottish Government to intervene and ensure that CSL are only adhering to what the regulations permit them to and not engage in trying to impose a handling fee that legally they are not allowed to do.

The DRS will go live on 16 August 2023, with consumers need to pay a 20p deposit at point of purchase.