Small retailers to get exemption from Scottish DRS

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Scottish government has allowed exemptions for small retailers in its Deposit and Return Scheme.

Under the proposals laid before the Scottish parliament, retailers can apply to the Scottish Ministers for an exemption from taking back drinks packaging.

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.

The draft DRS Regulations, however, include glass in the scheme, despite the strong objections raised against it.

“The small store exemptions are very welcome – they will provide welcome flexibility for smaller stores and our efforts on this have paid off. The inclusion of glass will be bad for the scheme overall and for convenience stores in particular,” said John Lee, head of public affairs at SGF.

Responding to the proposals, ACS said the exemption will lead to a more effective scheme.

“However, we still believe that a deposit return scheme that strategically maps the location of return points would be far more effective than a potentially complicated exemption process,” commented James Lowman, chief executive of ACS.

Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) said the regulations fails to recognise the “substantial additional costs” that its members’ businesses will incur.

“Despite our regular and substantial input into the DRS Implementation Advisory Group, we are disappointed that there is no mitigation for, or handling fee, to recognise the substantial additional costs and cross-border logistics that will impact on our members business,” said Colin Smith, chief executive of SWA.

“Additional initial weekly cash-flow requirements will run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds for each member – one truck of drinks cans will cost an additional £14,000 alone.”

The regulations, subject to consultation and scrutiny within the Scottish Parliament, state that retailers in Scotland will not be permitted to sell products which are not registered as part of the scheme.

The deposit will be set at 20p and materials will include: PET plastic, steel, aluminium and glass drinks containers.

A consultation on the draft Regulations is open until 10 December. The government intends to complete the legislative process by February 2020 with the scheme going live in April 2021.