The application process for Scottish retailers to apply for an exemption from a deposit return scheme (DRS) will open in April 2020, betterRetailing can reveal.

The Scottish government outlined in September that stores would be able to apply for an exemption from the scheme.

Under the proposals, retailers would be granted an exemption if there is ‘an alternative return point located with reasonable proximity to the premises, and the other operator of that return point has agreed to accept the return by consumers of items of scheme packaging on behalf of the retailer’.

Read more: Keep DRS application simple urge retailers

An anonymous source confirmed to betterRetailing that the government is currently undergoing talks about how the process will work, with the application process expected to go live in April 2020.

In addition, in order for retailers to be granted an exemption, they must show that another location has officially agreed to take back containers on their behalf.

Despite retailers initially welcoming the news of a potential exemption, betterRetailing has been warned that the process could be strict due to the government wanting to ensure adequate uptake of the scheme across Scotland.

Read more: Scottish DRS to include small store exemptions

When approached by betterRetailing, Sainsbury’s and Tesco both refused to reveal whether they would consider partnering with independent stores that lack the space to house a return vending machine.

However, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson did confirm the company was “exploring a range of scenarios”, while a Tesco spokesperson added: “We’re focusing on understanding how our customers interact with DRS in our trial stores so won’t be commenting on the broader policy.”

Read more: Retailer anger as Scottish government reveals DRS policy