Mo Razzaq DRS Reverse Vending machine

The Federation of Independent Retailers (The Fed) will seek compensation for equipment costs for its members if Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme is axed, deputy vice president Mo Razzaq told Convenience Store.

This follows Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy & Biodiversity Lorna Slater’s shock announcement last week that the Scottish DRS could be scrapped by the end of the month if the UK government doesn’t grant a Scottish exemption from the UK’s Internal Market Act.

“We’re still hopeful that the scheme will go ahead, but at the same time, we’re reminding the government that we will take legal advice,” said Mo, who owns Premier Mo’s Blantyre in Glasgow.

“Retailers have taken out leases on these [reverse vending] machines, which cost £320 a month,” he said. “If the scheme is scrapped then they are stuck with a lease for a machine that’s no longer useful and that’s for over five years. 

 “Our retailers can’t be left on the hook for £19,200. That’s how much it will cost for the [reverse vending] machine alone, then you’re talking about tens of thousands of pounds for the install.”

Mo himself has spent £10,000 creating a deposit room at his own store, as well as investing in a Sielaff reverse vending machine.

“It’s hardly fair putting the onus on the retailers … you can’t leave them high and dry,” he said. “This was a Scottish scheme approved by the Scottish Parliament. If you’re building a house, the first thing you would do is get your planning permission. You don’t wait until you’ve built your house and then apply for planning permission, so why are the Scottish government applying for this [exemption] now when they could have done it months ago? Surely that should have been one of the key things to be signed off.”

Meanwhile, The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has reaffirmed its commitment to the Scottish DRS. SGF chief executive Dr Pete Cheema OBE said: “Following on from the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) summit for the convenience industry in Falkirk, we would like to reaffirm its continued commitment to a fit for purpose, deposit return scheme, for consumers and small retail business.

”SGF will continue to work proactively with Circularity Scotland (CSL) and the Scottish Government to ensure a successful launch of the scheme in March 2024. It is vital that the Scottish Government confirms urgently that it will support industry and in particular CSL to ensure preparations can continue unabated, whilst it concludes agreement with the United Kingdom Government on the Internal Markets Act and all other outstanding issues.”

Mo Razzaq will be discussing the Deposit Return Scheme along with other industry experts at the Convenience Conference on 6 June at Kings Place in London. Book your ticket now to hear from the leading figures in the sector.