Retailers are still being left in the dark by their symbol groups on the deposit return scheme (DRS), despite the legislation coming into force in Scotland seven months from now.
In August, DRS will require customers to pay a premium on drinks bought in single-use containers, which they can reclaim by returning the empty container to retailers.
Separate DRS schemes are also due to launch in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by October 2025. Unlike in Scotland, glass bottles are set to be excluded.
In October 2022, betterRetailing contacted Nisa, Booker, Spar, KeyStore, Bestway, and United Wholesale Grocers to ask how they would be preparing their Scottish stores for DRS.
None of these companies provided answers on support.
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They failed to comment again following a subsequent comment request in January this year. Five retailers confirmed to betterRetailing that they also had not heard from their symbol groups regarding support.
Multisite Nisa retailer Shahid Ali said: “Nisa haven’t put on anything about it. I think Scotland’s such a small part of their overall plans that it’s not worth it to them.”
Others added that they turned to groups such as the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, Scottish Wholesale Association and DRS scheme administrator Circularity Scotland for answers instead.
Gary Haigh, of KeyStore More in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, said: “I learned so much from a Circularity Scotland conference last year. I don’t think it’s on our symbols, it’s got to be the operator.”
How retailers are preparing for DRS
Scottish Wholesale Association chief executive Colin Smith stressed wholesalers and their symbol groups were willing to provide support, but were hindered by a lack of clarity from the government.
He told betterRetailing: “There are many areas of DRS that still need resolving at a producer and retailer level, not least on whether deposits need to be worked into price-marked packs, clarity on how deposits should be shown on shelf labels and receipts.
“These things are preventing many producers from finalising their Scottish product strategy, which, in turn, makes it very difficult for wholesalers to plan for, and understand, their own range strategy after August 2023.”
Smith added that several elements like online takeback and DRS exemptions were only clarified in late December 2022, making it impossible for wholesalers to help retailers get ready.
He said: “Without certainty, nobody wants to give advice on what has been a moving feast and where there are real financial costs to a retailer if decisions are taken and things subsequently change.”
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