Independent shop owners in Norway have urged Scottish retailers to support the adoption of a Nordic-style deposit return scheme (DRS).

RN and pro-DRS retailers Mo Razzaq and David Woodrow attended an exclusive Norway study tour organised and partially funded by RVM systems, which manufactures deposit return systems.

The Norwegian DRS requires shops selling plastic bottles and aluminium cans to accept empty bottles and cans in return for a handling fee. Infinitum, a supplier and retailer-owned organisation, runs the system. It told RN that just 25% of locations used a returns machine. 

The remaining 75% take returns over the counter and handle just 7% of the total bottle return volumes. The bottles are removed in the same lorries that deliver goods to each store.

Bikkar Singh Uppal, who owns Joker convenience store outside Oslo, has traded with and without a machine. Describing how it benefits his store, he told RN: “People leave the machine with money in their hand, and the vast majority of them then spend it in our shop.”

Discussing the visit, Razzaq, of Family Shopper Blantyre in Glasgow, said: “We know this is coming into force in Scotland. What we need to do is find a model that works for us.

“Retailers need to keep DRS in mind when they are developing their shop in the coming months.

“Norwegian retailers are reaping the benefits because they have made it work for them.”

Sweden runs a similar scheme, except stores with a returns machine are paid an additional £2,000 per annum. 

DRS regulation is confirmed for Scotland and RVM predicts a UK-wide system will be announced next year for introduction in 2023.

However, many retailers are opposed to the system. Sue Nithyanandan, from Costcutter Epsom, said: “These machines are expensive and bulky.

“The footfall argument is again being used by companies to gain rent-free space in our stores.”

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