The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to a question in the House of Lords about plastic bottle recycling and a deposit return scheme, urging the government to listen to the views of convenience store retailers by including them in the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) economic and voluntary incentives working group.

Speaking in the Lords, environment minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble said: “…as part of the litter strategy, for which I have established a working group, we are going to look at a number of measures to improve recycling. One of them is to have a full and proper look at the impacts and benefits of different types of deposit and reward-and-return schemes for drinks.”

Responding to his comments, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “If the government wants to fully understand the impact of bottle deposit or reward schemes they must engage with convenience stores by incorporating them within the DEFRA economic and voluntary incentives working group. Where bottle return schemes operate elsewhere in Europe they rely on retailers to collect recycled bottles, therefore consultation with both small and large retailers is essential.

“While we welcome a debate about encouraging recycling and reducing letter, bottle deposit schemes would have a negative impact on convenience store that do not have the space to collect, process and store bottles.”

Polling of 1,210 convenience retailers found that 71% would not have enough space in their store or would have to change their store to facilitate a bottle deposit or reward scheme. Additionally, consumer study has shown that 70% of consumers prefer their existing household kerbside recycling collections and the majority of consumers would like to see an expansion of kerbside collections (37%) and an extension of the number products that can be recycled.