Small Scottish stores of under 3,000 sq ft should be exempt from government plans to launch a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for beverage containers, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) claims.

Responding to the Scottish government’s consultation, which closed on 25 September, the ACS recommended a number of key principals to ensure that retailers would not be unnecessarily burdened.

These included an exemption for small stores, although retailers who wished to participate should be able to apply to opt in, the ACS said.

Return points for containers should also be strategically placed instead of making it mandatory for every location that sells drinks to have return facilities, it added.

The ACS also said that an automated system should be used, as it was not feasible for small retail businesses to manually manage returns.

Schemes in other parts of the UK should also be designed coherently so there were not separate approaches in Scotland, England and Wales, the ACS added.

England and Wales are both planning to launch consultations on a DRS shortly.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are keen to work positively with the Scottish government to develop a policy that is workable for retailers and doesn’t place unnecessary burdens on the smallest businesses.

“The cost of introducing a deposit return scheme and space required for automated reverse vending machines is significant, which is why small shops must not be forced to provide return facilities.”

The ACS also recommended that PET drinks bottles and metal drinks cans should be in the scope of a deposit return scheme, but that glass, HDPE bottles, cartons and cups should not, due to the additional logistical and safety issues and manual return requirements of these packaging types.