A unified approach to the deposit return scheme (DRS) is unlikely to happen within a year of implementation, senior industry experts have warned.
DRS is to be introduced in Scotland from August 2023. Under the scheme designed to promote sustainability, customers will pay a small deposit when they buy a drink in a single-use container from a retailer. The deposit is given back when they return the empty bottle or can to the store.
The introduction of DRS into the rest of the UK will not happen until 2024 at the earliest. The scheme has also faced criticism from retailers over uncertainty on whether there will be a unified approach across Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. This relates to how retailers will be required to take back containers, the material of the containers taken back and whether the handling fee – the fee retailers receive per item returned – would be the same.
Speaking on 20 September at an event discussing DRS, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners vice president of public affairs, communications and sustainability Julian Hunt warned delays in government would impact the rollout of the legislation.
He said: “We’ve seen a lot of upheaval in Westminster and that’s been worrying because there’s been a lot of delays. At one point we thought there was a drive in Great Britain to get to that alignment, but that seems to have slowed down. It’s been very hard to make the right progress.
“There is a law [DRS] in place that will happen in under a year. We have to be ready. There’s a lot to do. This will be a legal requirement for us all. I don’t think we will have alignment across the other nations within a year, but we will have to do the best we can to make things work.”