The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) and Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have submitted a joint response opposing proposals for a bottle return scheme in Scotland.

They were responding to a call for evidence from Scottish environment agency Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) on the feasibility of implementing a deposit and return scheme (DRS) in Scotland.

The deposit and return scheme is aimed at increasing recycling rates and reducing litter by encouraging consumers to return empty containers to retail outlets. DRS schemes focus primarily on beverage containers but the proposed Scottish scheme could be the most wide-ranging in Europe and include all types of aluminium cans, cartons, glass bottles, plastic bottles and containers.

The joint SGF-ACS response strongly argues that this is the wrong solution for Scotland and that convenience store retailers would be unable to store and process the anticipated high levels of returns envisaged by the feasibility study. Additionally DRS would increase costs for consumers and throw into reverse the considerable progress Scotland has made in implementing kerbside recycling services.

ACS chief executive James Lowman, said: “A deposit return scheme would bring massive new burdens on local shops, add cost to the supply chain, and lead to less recycling through local authority kerbside collections. The Scottish Government should stop and think about the impact of such a scheme on businesses and on the environment.”

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “We have serious concerns about this entire process – the ZWS feasibility study has not looked at the potential impact on convenience store. A typical convenience store will sell around 3,000 units a week of soft drinks alone. Space is always at a premium for convenience store retailers – how could a store be expected to cope with the anticipated high levels of return?”

SGF has requested a meeting with minister for business Fergus Ewing to highlight the serious impact on convenience stores and will invite officials from ZWS to visit convenience stores to assess the challenges and problems a DRS would cause to the sector.