With Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme scheduled to commence in the spring of 2021, it seems timely to talk about some of the implications for retailers, both north and south of the border.
While we have just learned that retailers who install Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) will not face a hike in business rates, there is still a lot of detail to be determined and many areas of concern.
Having trialled a RVM in-store for three months earlier this year, the first of these is space: RVMs are bulky, and with the inclusion of glass as proposed by the current plan, they are even bulkier. While easy to use, they need to be emptied regularly, and the contents stored elsewhere in the store while awaiting collection. And don’t forget, this needs to be secure storage, as this stuff is worth money.
The second concern is public education: once again, retailers will be at the sharp end, having to explain to customers why their favourite 12-pack has risen by £2.40 overnight (12 containers at 20p each, do the math). This could completely change consumer buying habits.
But the main concern is cost. An RVM costs at least £3,000, and by opting not to have one, I believe a store is losing out as it is a footfall driver. There will also be a manufacturer’s levy, plus increased cost at the point of wholesale. And while you ultimately will get all those 20ps back, how long will it take? And what about any rejected bottles or cans? Presumably we will take the hit on those, so it’s a huge cash flow issue.
We all want this to work but in order for it to work properly, the government has to get it right, from day one.