Shopkeepers must encourage involvement with Scotland’s forthcoming bottle deposit return scheme or face losing footfall to supermarkets, retailers have told RN. 

The comments were made as informal talks got under way in advance of a formal consultation north of the border. Under current proposals, Scottish shoppers will pay a deposit when buying drinks in glass bottles or cans. This will then be refunded when containers are returned via a process called ‘reverse vending’.  

David Woodrow, of Woodrow’s Newsagents in Bishopton, urged smaller retailers to assert themselves at an early stage in the talks. 

“As retailers, we are piggy in the middle on this. One of the biggest fears is that if we say no to it we will lose footfall to the supermarkets,” he said. 

The aim of the scheme, which is being developed by the quango Zero Waste Scotland, is to curb littering and boost recycling rates, although many of the plans, including the obligations for retailers, remain unclear. 

However, a Zero Waste Scotland spokeswoman 
confirmed the scheme is
 expected to include all single-use drinks containers. She added informal talks had begun this month with stakeholders, including retailers, to thrash out the amount of deposit, which containers the deposit will apply to, where they will be returned to, and the overall management of the scheme.

Glasgow retailer Mo Razzaq, who is due to trial a recycling machine in his Family Shopper store in Blantyre, called for the government to subsidise the machines needed to run the scheme which 
can cost upwards of £19,000. 

He said: “These need to make a decent return for shopkeepers,” adding Scottish NFRN members have suggested a National Lottery-style commission for hosting the scheme.

National Lottery retailers earn between 5-6% commission for each game sold. A National Lottery spokesperson told RN National Lottery retailers “earned around £6,500 in commission per store in 2016/17”.