FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

Local shops have urged members of the Senedd in Wales to ensure that the operation of a planned deposit return scheme in Wales should be consistent with schemes in the rest of the UK.

Addressing a meeting of the Welsh Cross Party Group on Small Shops, ACS shared some of the challenges of introducing a scheme that will be workable and sustainable for consumers, retailers and suppliers, as well as detailed guidance originally drafted for Scotland on the detailed considerations and adaptations that retailers have to make when providing return points in store.

The guiding principles for a well-designed scheme include:

1. The scheme should be consistent across the UK

2. The scheme must be at worst cost neutral for retailers

3. Glass should not be included in the scheme

4. Return points should be strategically mapped and not mandated on the basis of business type/size

5. The scheme should prioritise customer and colleague safety.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Welsh government’s plans to introduce a deposit return scheme to boost recycling rates. It is essential that the scheme is inter-operable across the UK, and we must learn the lessons from the Scottish scheme to ensure that the introduction of a scheme in Wales is sustainable. 2025 is an ambitious target, so there is much to do to ensure that we get the details right and introduce a scheme that works for everyone.”

Julie James MS, minister for climate change, also addressed the meeting, providing an update on the Welsh government’s DRS plans and how it will account for small shops.

The earliest date that a deposit return scheme can come into force in the UK is October 2025, after the Scottish scheme was pushed back due to concerns from Westminster about the inclusion of glass containers. The Welsh government have stated that they still intend to include glass within their DRS regulations.