It has been said that familiarity can breed contempt. With that in mind, it is with a bit of hesitation that we touch yet again on the contentious issue of a deposit return scheme (DRS). 

The words themselves are probably enough to have people switching off, but the inconvenient truth is that this will probably be the biggest thing to land ever on our industry. SGF has been on its on ‘journey’ with this: we were strongly and consistently opposed to it, and for a long time it looked as if we were being successful in holding it back. 

That all changed dramatically around about this time last year when the Scottish government decided – for purely political reasons, in our view – to commit to implementing a DRS and including it in the programme for government. From that moment on, we knew that some form of DRS was inevitable and it was our job to get the most fit-for-purpose system for our members. 

We have driven this approach forward and before the end of this year, we will begin a project trialling reverse vending machines in several of our members’ stores.  

We know that this is happening already with some larger retailers, but there seems to be more than a touch of a PR exercise with these.

For us, it’s about genuine learning about the impact on convenience stores: how will customers react, what will be the level of returned containers, how will staff cope, what amount of staff time will be required for maintenance and so on. The aim is that this provides some real-world experience to ensure we get the best solution for retailers.

Read similar: Retailers welcome deposit return scheme proposals

Pete Cheema
Chief executive,
Scottish Grocers Federation