Linda Williams

Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme continues to be a hot topic. The deposit has been set at 20p per container and, disappointingly, will include glass bottles, and that’s about as much as we know.

In a bid to inform ourselves, we, along with two other stores, took part in a trial of an Envipco Reverse Vending machine from February to May, where the machine and the uplift of the containers was provided free by Envipco and Viridor, and we offered a 10p voucher per container recycled to the customer.

We all opted to try to get customers to donate to a local charity, in our case, our local primary school. The school received a cheque for more than £1,450, customers were delighted with their 10p vouchers to spend in-store, and the machine itself was simple to operate.

However, all stores reported concerns. At the moment it seems we will have to pay up front or so that these machines cost. And even with a generous handling fee, which has yet to be discussed, that is going to take years to pay for itself.

As for smaller stores who cannot afford this, their only option will be to accept non-compressed containers over the counter, and store them where, exactly? And how often will the collections be? Where do we store the bags of empties?

And when it comes to the levy itself, at what point will it be imposed?

So many questions, but the crucial one remains: at what level will the handling fee for retailers be set? At the very least, this needs to be cost neutral. We are businesses with bills and staff to pay, and it is unfair to expect us to shoulder the burden of yet another societal problem.