Sturgeon pledge to shops

Rates relief offer to retailers adopting bottle return scheme

Bottle return

Bottle return schemes have been controversial

UPDATE: Retailers required to accept the return of single-use drinks containers could qualify for rates relief, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In May, Ministers announced their plans for a Deposit Return Scheme which would see all shops that sell bottles or cans of drink reimburse customers 20p per returned container.

Sops have been guaranteed that their rates will not rise should they choose to install a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) to allow automated returns.

Speaking at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) annual conference in Glasgow, the First Minister said: “The consequences of our throwaway culture can be seen in our streets, our countryside and our waters. But as well as being a depressing eyesore, the damage it causes our environment is irreversible.

“Retailers will be critical to the success of our planned Deposit Return Scheme and by introducing rates relief, we are supporting them to play their part.

“Retailers are already taking steps to reduce packaging and I look forward to the introduction of this scheme and the positive change in behaviour it will lead to.”

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “We have made a very strong case for this rates relief and we are proud to say that the Scottish Government has listened and delivered something of real benefit to the industry.”

Minsters announced details of the Deposit Return Scheme on 8 May. The scheme will cover single-use drinks containers made of glass, metal or PET plastic (the most common form of plastic used for drinks packaging)

The draft legislation to establish the scheme was laid in Parliament on 10 September and views are sought by 10 December.

It is anticipated that as many as 3,000 shops will invest in RVMs as a result of the scheme, accepting up to 85% of all returned packaging – the remaining shops will operate a manual “over the counter” scheme.

A new 100% non-domestic rates relief for RVMs will take effect from 1 April 2020 in preparation for the scheme going live. The relief will run indefinitely, ensuring that non-domestic rates do not rise for retailers as a result of the installation of RVMs.

Call to help small firms

UPDATE 28 Oct: Two trade bodies have called for ministers to offer greater assurances to small retailers operating a deposit return scheme.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland want to see a deposit system that is effective at meeting its environmental objectives; is easy for the public to use; and doesn’t overburden smaller producers and retailers.

Ministers expect the industry to establish a system operator to manage deposit return in Scotland. APRS and FSB want Holyrood decision-makers and SEPA (the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) to ensure this new body is required to consider the needs of smaller firms. 

The FSB’s Andrew McRae said: “Our hope is still that there will be a single UK-wide deposit system, which would be better for the environment and the public as well as our members. But in the meantime, as Scotland’s system gets finalised, this is the moment for small producers and retailers to be heard.”

The two organisations want appropriate representation for small businesses, frequent collections, no impact on rates and taxes and provision at the system operator’s expense of safe and environmentally friendly equipment.

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