DRS deposit return scheme RVM reverse vending machine

Retailers in Scotland are lobbying for a higher commission for taking part in the upcoming deposit return scheme (DRS), following an announcement of fees earlier this month.

Scheme administrator Circularity Scotland Limited (CSL) revealed store owners operating a manual scheme – including takebacks over the counter – would receive a 2.69p handling fee per item returned. Those using a reverse-vending machine (RVM) will earn 3.55p for the first 8,000 items returned each week, with an extra 1.5p for each additional item.

The payment will be in addition to the refund of 20p deposit paid by the retailer to the customer at the point of purchase.

The Fed’s deputy vice president and owner of Premier Mo’s Blantyre, Mo Razzaq, told betterRetailing although he supported DRS, he felt retailers were being “taken for fools”.

As a result, he is asking CSL to consider increasing the manual fee to 4p and the RVM cost to 5p.

“The announced fee is reasonable, but it could be a lot more,” said Razzaq. “There’s a cost-of-living crisis and the scheme is going to cost us more money because we have increased costs.”

Razzaq also confirmed retailers would be demanding confirmation of what would be included in the cost of the scheme, and which elements they would be expected to pay for. “We need guarantees the bags and everything needed for the scheme does not come out of retailers’ pockets,” he said. “We cannot absorb the costs of this.”

In an upcoming meeting with CSL, Razzaq revealed store owners will be demanding that adequate facilities are in place within Scotland for the back-haul of aluminium cans and bottles.

This request comes after concerns were expressed that waste will be shipped abroad rather than recycled in the UK.

“This is a scheme set up to help the environment, so the government should be looking at supporting start-ups here who can take the glass and aluminium away, and do something with it rather than increasing the carbon footprint,” he said.

In addition, Zero Waste Scotland has been called upon to offer interest-free loans and grant funding tied specifically to DRS.

“There is no help available for the financing of the scheme,” said Razzaq. “An RVM costs upwards of £10,000, so the government should be offering deals. This would help us absorb the costs of a machine, or altering premises to cater to the implementation of the scheme.”

DRS is expected to be rolled out across Scotland on 16 August 2023, following two pushbacks, with late 2024 given at the earliest for England, Wales and Northern Ireland – six years after the government first announced it.

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