Claims that a deposit return scheme would set retailers back at least £40.7m have been heavily disputed by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS).

In a joint statement, the ACS and Scottish Grocers Federation described deposit returns schemes as “expensive, impractical and ultimately ineffective,” with the SGF citing a Zero Waste Scotland report as evidence of a £40.7m cost to retailers.

SGF head of public affairs John Lee said: “There is no way independent retailers in Scotland could or should have to meet these costs.”

Kate Salmon, executive director of the Scottish Wholesale Association, backed up the fears. “We remain convinced that a deposit return scheme would involve significant and unnecessary costs and disruption for wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers and consumers,” she said.

However, James Mackenzie from the APRS said the cost would be much lower and could potentially bring in between £7.1m and £8.7m a year in profit for retailers. “There’s a cost with anything in business, but the key question is what is the profit? Independent retailers are a net beneficiary in nearly all return schemes,” he said.

The Scottish government has commissioned Zero Waste Scotland to develop a working model to settle concerns over efficiency and cost. Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Clearly there are a number of issues for the Scottish Government to consider when it comes to deposit return schemes that can only be addressed by carrying out work to understand the design of a potential system.”