The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the Welsh Government’s announcement that it will seek to work towards a UK-wide deposit return system for drinks containers in Wales.
ACS is calling for detailed consideration of the role that retailers can play in such a scheme, including the challenges and burdens that may arise from it.
Welsh environment minister Hannah Blythyn said: "I am currently considering Wales’ involvement in a UK-wide deposit return scheme. Developing approaches on a UK wide basis can be less complicated for consumers and better for businesses who have told us they prefer this approach, particularly as we prepare for Brexit.”
The Scottish Government announced plans in September last year to introduce a deposit return scheme in Scotland, while the Westminster government is seeking to consult on the issue for England in the coming months.
The Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group, set up by DEFRA ministers in 2017, published its report on measures to increase recycling rates including deposit and return/reward systems in February, recommending the following considerations be given to schemes being implemented in the UK:
• any DRS that government may consider implementing should be developed for the UK or GB, if possible, and not England in isolation;
• to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort for all involved, Defra should work with the Devolved Governments to ensure that a comprehensive impact assessment for any proposed DRS is done on a UK or GB-wide basis;
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Governments in different parts of the UK are rightly considering ways to improve recycling rates and reduce litter, and it is good to see ministers in Wales working to develop the best UK-wide approach.
“Convenience stores are keen to play their part in improving recycling rates, but current DRS proposals raise more questions than answers about implementation, cost and availability space in stores.”
A recent survey of 1,210 UK independent retailers found that 71% thought a deposit return scheme would be impractical to implement due to the space that it would require in their stores.
Populus polling of 2,000 consumers in the UK found that 70% would prefer to use kerbside household recycling facilities over a deposit return system for bottles and cans. The survey also found that the top three reasons given for why consumers would increase their recycling rate were:
• If more packaging was recyclable (37%);
• If packaging was more clearly labelled as recyclable (35%); and
• If household recycling collections took a greater range of recyclable goods (29%).
In comparison, only 9% of consumers in Populus’ polling said that they would recycle more if a deposit return scheme was introduced.