Independent retailers will more easily be able to opt-out of Scotland’s upcoming deposit return scheme (DRS), following new regulation changes.
The government published amendments to the scheme today (17 May), after it announced another delay to the schemes roll-out last month.
As a result, it will now go live on 1 March 2024, giving businesses additional time to great ready. In response to feedback from retailers, only the largest grocery retailers will be required to offer a takeback service, giving independent stores a greater chance of getting an exemption approved, if they apply.
Return points will also be able to refuse returns of certain materials in specific circumstances, where bringing that type of material into the premises poses a serious risk to food safety or health and safety.
In addition, the scheme will still include all types of drinks sold in single-use PET plastic bottles, metal cans or glass. However, the minimum size will be increased from 50ml to 100ml, removing miniatures and other smaller containers from the scheme.
Products that sell fewer than 5,000 units per year will no longer carry a deposit. This will apply to many craft drinks, specialist wines and spirits, and limited edition products.
Moving forward, the UK government must issue an exclusion from the Internal Market Act, which was imposed on the Scottish Parliament after Brexit without its consent, which has created confusion and uncertainty for businesses.
In response to the changes announced today, the ACS has updated its DRS guide for stores, that can be found here.
The trade body also welcomed the UK government’s decision on how VAT will be applied to DRS. Under existing rules, VAT is chargeable on the price payable for goods and services, including any deposit added to the price.
The draft regulations aim to remove complexity for businesses by placing the obligation to account for the VAT on unreturned containers on the manufacturer or importer.
ACS chief executive, James Lowman said: “We are supportive of the proposals laid out in the draft regulations as this will protect retailers from the additional administrative burdens associated with the application of VAT to all deposits.”