plastic bottles
REUTERS/Feline Lim

Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) has called on the Scottish government to set up a new £50 million investment fund to enable convenience retailers to meet the cost of a Scottish Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The proposal formed a key part of SGF’s submission to the Scottish government consultation on DRS for single use plastic drinks containers, which closed on 25 September. As part of the proposed scheme people would pay a small deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container and get that money back when it is returned empty.

Based on the system in Norway, which provides a useful benchmark for Scotland in terms of population and geography, it is likely that Scotland will require 3,700 automated collection points. The new ‘Circular Economy Fund’ would enable retailers to meet the capital expenditure required to install a Reverse Vending Machine, the most efficient way of taking back containers, pointed out the trade body.

“The Scottish government has stated that DRS should be developed in a way that addresses the specific needs of small retailers – to deliver on this the government needs to establish this fund to guarantee that the system is established on a full cost recovery basis and that small retailers are not left at a competitive disadvantage with the big supermarkets,” said John Lee, head of public affairs at the SGF.

SGF has also strongly argued that body which runs the system must be controlled by industry, without interference by the Scottish government or its agencies and should be comprised of both manufacturers and retailers.

SGF said it is also developing a series of in-store trails of Reverse Vending Machines with its retail members and the main RVM manufacturers, the first trials of their kind in convenience stores in Scotland.

The Scottish government is expected to publish its final proposals towards the end of 2018.