Concerns met

Deposit return scheme fees cut after backlash

Bottle return
Concern over fees has led to changes

Drinks producers have forced the administrator of the UK’s first deposit return scheme to cut fees in response to concerns over costs.

Circularity Scotland (CSL) said the costs to some producers would be cut by as much as 40% following the backlash and a potential legal challenge.

The Scottish government has already announced that thousands of smaller retailers could opt out of the scheme, which is expected to hugely reduce the number of return points.

Now Circular Economy minister Lorna Slater has written to the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero committee announcing that she would “bring forward amendments to the regulations so that initially only the largest grocery supermarkets will be obliged to provide a takeback service; all other businesses will be exempt.”

In stores where it will apply, consumers will pay a refundable 20p deposit, which will apply to all single-use PET plastic, aluminium, steel, or glass drinks containers ranging in size from 50ml to three-litre containers.

Under the review, producers will pay 2.21p per plastic item as opposed to 3.17p. The cost of aluminium will come down from 3.42p per item to 2.03p and glass from 4.45p to 4.10p.

Producers will also see a major reduction in the upfront costs they are being asked to pay to provide cash flow for the scheme to operate. In August they were told they would have to pay 2.4 months’ worth of deposits and producer fees immediately before the start of the scheme, which was greeted as a hammer blow to SMEs.

Small brewers in Scotland alone estimated they faced a £1.5m cost in the first year of the scheme.

CSL CEO David Harris described the change in fees as a “big win” for industry.

Registration for the scheme starts in January and producers must be registered by 28 February.

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