FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has written to Lorna Slater, minister for green skills, the circular economy and biodiversity in the Scottish government, calling for urgent action to address the challenges facing the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland later this year.

In the letter, ACS warns that there is still confusion over ‘basic operational elements’ of the scheme, such as how prices should be displayed in stores, how often collections will take place, and how long retailers will have to wait for deposit refunds.

The Scottish government has committed to introducing a deposit return scheme on 16 August this year. While ACS supports the introduction of the scheme through its involvement with Circularity Scotland (CSL) and regular communications with retailers, it has warned that there are too many unknowns at this late stage, especially around the transition period, or ‘cutover’.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are committed to making the upcoming deposit return scheme work in Scotland, but the timescales have gone from being ambitious to impractical. With so much of the detail still yet to be published, there is rising concern among convenience stores and other parts of industry that we won’t be ready for August. Failure to accelerate the publication of operational information would be an expensive mistake and risk alienating both customers and retailers.”

ACS is currently working on a comprehensive guide for retailers on the practical implications of running a deposit return scheme in store, whether they are seeking an exemption, operating a manual scheme, or installing a reverse vending machine in store. The guidance will be launched at the ACS Responsible Retailing Seminar on March 1.