The ACS is calling on Government to ensure that a manually administered deposit return scheme (DRS) does not form part of its plan to encourage people to recycle more.
The consultation proposes a network of return points made up of reverse vending machines and manual return points, which would be hosted by retailers and in other locations.
The impact assessment published alongside the consultation suggests that small convenience stores would be required to take back containers manually because “reverse vending machines will not be an economic solution” for them. ACS has previously argued that manual returns would cause a number of issues for retailers and would not be a “practical solution”.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement that reverse vending machines may not be economically or practically viable for small stores, but requiring those stores to take part in a manual return system would be extremely problematic.
“Issues our members have identified include a lack of space to store returned containers, hygiene problems from handling dirty containers, colleagues having to deal with potentially hundreds of returned containers every day, and the queues and customer disruption this could cause.
Association of Convenience Stores – “Any plans to introduce a deposit return scheme must abandon the idea of requiring manual returns and focus on a fully funded and strategically located network of reverse vending machines that allow consumers to recycle more without causing unnecessary problems, delays and health hazards in small stores.”
“Any plans to introduce a deposit return scheme must abandon the idea of requiring manual returns and focus on a fully funded and strategically located network of reverse vending machines that allow consumers to recycle more without causing unnecessary problems, delays and health hazards in small stores.”
Government will seek views on two options for how the DRS could work if introduced. The first option, known as the ‘all-in’ model, would target a large amount of drinks beverages placed on the market, irrespective of size.
The second option, known as the ‘on-the-go’ model, would restrict the drinks containers in-scope to those less than 750ml in size and sold in single format containers. This model would target drinks most often sold for consumption outside of the home (while ‘on-the–go’).
Mr Lowman continued: “The concerns that we have about the practicality of manual returns in small stores would only be amplified if the size of containers was unlimited. Larger containers are typically consumed at home and then recycled through the existing kerbside collection network. We do not believe that there is a need to include them within the scope of a deposit return scheme.”
Despite kerbside collections being in place to recycle larger containers, Councillor Clyde Loakes, chair of the North London Waste Authority says its own deposit return modelling supports the work carried out by Defra, and suggests that a DRS which covers a wider range of materials and captures a wider range of drinks containers for recycling will have “far more benefits” than a scheme which is limited in scope and has a lower level of capture.
“To put this into context an ‘all-in’ DRS gives a central Net Present Value of £2.1 billion according to the consultation document, whilst a scheme which only covers drinks containers consumed ‘on-the-go’ gives a central Net Present Value of £249 million,” he said.
North London Waste Authority – “To put this into context an ‘all-in’ DRS gives a central Net Present Value of £2.1 billion according to the consultation document, whilst a scheme which only covers drinks containers consumed ‘on-the-go’ gives a central Net Present Value of £249 million”
“DRS schemes operate effectively in many other countries, increasing recycling rates and improving the quality of recycling, so we should seize this opportunity to make a real difference.”
An “all in” DRS is also supported by TOMRA Collection Solutions UK & Ireland.
Managing director Truls Haug said TOMRA is involved in DRS in more than 60 markets and of the two options presented within the consultation, it supports the ‘all in’ model as it believes this would have “maximum impact on increasing recycling rates”.
“Successful deposit return schemes can play a significant role in sparking a recycling revolution and we will be watching with interest to see the consultation results in due course,” Truls says.
The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee says it is said pleased that DRS is being considered on a UK wide basis and says that more work needs to be done to “understand the impacts on council kerbside systems”.
LARAC says it has supported development of a tool produced by Anthesis and supported by SUEZ that will be free to all local authorities to help them assess DRS impacts on them.