The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed further detail from the Scottish Government on the proposed regulations for the introduction of a deposit return scheme, which includes plans to allow retailers to apply for exemptions.

The regulations, subject to consultation and scrutiny within the Scottish Parliament, set out that retailers will be able to apply for an exemption to the scheme where there is ‘an alternative return point located with reasonable proximity to the premises and the other operator of that return point has agreed to accept the return by consumers of items of scheme packaging on behalf of the retailer’. Under the proposals, retailers would be required to apply to the Scottish ministers for an exemption from taking back drinks packaging.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have outlined issues that the introduction of a deposit return scheme poses for convenience retailers as processing these returns takes considerable time and as a result will cause queues, as well as hygiene issues from taking back and storing dirty packaging.

“The announcement that retailers will have the option to apply for an exemption is a welcome one for local shops, and will mean less duplication of return points and a more effective scheme. However, we still believe that a deposit return scheme that strategically maps the location of return points would be far more effective than a potentially complicated exemption process.

“We still have significant concerns over the operation of the scheme, and we will be responding in detail to the consultation to seek clarity about how the exemption application process will work and how the scheme will practical, proportionate in its requirements of retailers, and will achieve its objectives.”

ACS has also welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to clarify what a “reasonable handling fee” is, which is paid to compensate them for taking back drinks packaging. The draft regulations currently set out that the handling would need to take into account the costs of purchase, lease, maintenance or upkeep of any infrastructure such as a reverse vending machine, the costs of material used for the collection and storage of drinks containers, the rental value of any floor space used to take back drinks containers, as well as staff time.

The regulations also set out:

• the deposit will be set at 20p;

• materials will include: PET plastic, steel, aluminium and glass drinks containers;

• retailers must operate a return point at premises from which the point of sale of products are made;

• retailers selling products by means of distance sales (e.g. through an online grocery sale and delivery service) to provide takeback services from the site of delivery to consumers who have purchased those items.