The Scottish government’s decision to roll out a bottle deposit return scheme will adversely impact small stores, retail associations have warned.

Announced today in A Government’s Programme for Scotland, the Scottish Government said it would work closely with the business community during the scheme’s design and implementation, but it was yet to decide whether the initiative would apply to small retailers.

The Scottish Grocers Federation warned that the scheme would either impose costs on local retailers if it extends to them, or drive customers to large stores if smaller shops are exempt.

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “This is an atrocious decision by the Scottish government. Deposit return is too costly, too disruptive and too expensive.

“If the Scottish government wanted to significantly damage the viability of an independent convenience store industry in Scotland, which provides 42,000 jobs and contributes over £500 million to the economy, then this is an ideal way to do it. This is bad policy making and bad government; there is no evidence to justify this decision.”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Today’s announcement by the Scottish Government undermines the valuable work Zero Waste Scotland were doing to model the costs and implications of a deposit return scheme for convenience retailers, consumers and local authorities.

“Our view remains that DRS would impose massive unnecessary time and cost burdens on retailers operating from small premises. A small shop exemption is also not the answer as it would just divert customers to larger stores where they could receive returns on their deposits.”