Scottish wholesalers continue to back kerbside recycling over DRS

Bin lorry

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has voiced its disappointment at the Scottish Government’s decision to ask its environment agency Zero Waste Scotland to undertake further modelling on different deposit return systems.

Figures from Zero Waste Scotland released by the Scottish Government last week show that retailers in Scotland will face start-up costs of at least £40.7m if a deposit return scheme (DRS) is introduced.

The data was released by the agency as part of its final summary of evidence gathering into the potential impact of a deposit return scheme in Scotland. It was also revealed that the £40.7m figure for Scotland was arrived at by ‘scaling down’ the set-up costs of the deposit return scheme in Germany. The German scheme had start-up costs for retailers of over €720m.

Kate Salmon, Executive Director of the SWA, said: “We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has decided to move to the next stage of modelling potential schemes. We remain convinced that a deposit return scheme would involve significant and unnecessary costs and disruption for wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers and consumers.

“Zero Waste Scotland’s own figures show the disruption of the existing kerbside recycling system would result in only marginal benefit of £3-6 million in terms of direct reduced litter costs for local authorities.

“Using the German experience and costs scaled to Scotland, ZWS figures show a £40.7 million set-up cost and £44.5 million annual ongoing costs. We believe the additional costs in terms of extra warehousing space, administration, hygiene issues involved in back-hauling waste products and the potential for fraud mean the actual costs to business have been under estimated.”

Commenting on the announcement by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham that progress will be overseen by a steering group involving representatives from the packaging industry, retailers and environmental groups, and followed by a full public consultation, Salmon said: “We trust the steering group will fully examine the business reality of this proposal.

“While we are satisfied that options will then be put to the public for consultation before ministers reach a final decision on the future of deposit return, Scotland’s wholesalers will continue to engage with the Scottish Government on this issue and continue to make the case for investment in the existing successful kerbside system.”