Over recent weeks, there has been a growing interest in each of the administrations of England, Scotland and Wales about deposit return schemes for bottles and cans.

For convenience store owners in the UK, there are several problems with taking part in a deposit return scheme.

Firstly, more than 90% of stores in the sector are under 2,000sq ft, so finding space to fit a reverse vending machine or to take potentially hundreds of bottles and cans behind the till every week is an expensive and cumbersome challenge. 

It’s important to note that the ACS is fully supportive of measures that cut litter and are effective

For those that can’t put a machine in, staff in store would have to manually administer the scheme at the tillpoint, creating queues and potential flashpoints with customers that may have packaging not eligible for a deposit refund. 

In addition to consultation with retailers, we have put together a body of evidence from consumers that sends a clear message: a deposit return scheme in any area of the UK would be ineffective, confusing and unnecessary.

Overall, 70% of consumers asked about ways they want to recycle said that they preferred existing kerbside collections, and main motivators for them to recycle more were to have more recyclable packaging and clearer labels of what can and can’t be recycled, not to have a new system of paying extra for some packaging, sorting it separately at home and then having to remember to take it back to a store. 

It’s important to note that the ACS is fully supportive of measures that cut litter and are effective. We have been lobbying the Government since the introduction of the carrier bag charge to extend the scheme to small businesses because it’s effective, doesn’t cost anything to the retailer and doesn’t confuse customers.

A deposit return scheme does not tick any of those boxes, so we will continue to make the case for it to be scrapped.