Environmental Audit Committee Report on DRS Fails to Address Concerns of Retailers

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has responded to the publication of an Environmental Audit Committee report which calls for the introduction of a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, urging the Government to consider the impact that DRS would have on small retailers.

The report, published this morning (Friday), cites evidence given by ACS to the Environmental Audit Committee on the problems of implementing a deposit return scheme in the convenience sector, such as the space and cost of a scheme and the health and safety implications of a manual return process in stores. The report refers to these as ‘serious and legitimate concerns’, but continues to recommend a ‘legislated Deposit Return Scheme for all PET plastic drinks bottles’ following close consultation with retailers.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “There are still fundamental issues with the administration of a deposit return scheme that haven’t been addressed by the Environmental Audit Committee’s report. The space required to house reverse vending machines in convenience stores is extremely burdensome and in many cases just not practical, and there are a host of issues with a manual return system including not just the space required to store bottles being returned, but also the health and safety implications of dirty bottles being taken back to stores and staff having to process them.

“It is right that the Government is looking at the issue of recycling, but we do not believe that a deposit return scheme is the most effective approach.  As well as our concerns about the impact on retailers, local authority representatives gave evidence to this inquiry about how a deposit return scheme could undermine existing kerbside recycling. Parliaments and government departments across the UK need to think carefully about all of these issues, and propose the best ways of improving recycling rates and reducing plastic waste.”

A survey of 2,000 consumers across the UK found that 70% preferred to use kerbside household recycling facilities over a deposit return system for bottles and cans. In the same survey, the top three reasons given for why consumers would recycle more were:

  • If more packaging was recyclable (37%)
  • If packaging was more clearly labelled as recyclable (35%) and
  • If household recycling collections took a greater range of recyclable goods (29%)

The UK Government is currently considering a range of measures to tackle plastic waste, and has convened a Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group to look at the issue of deposit return and reward schemes, as well as other incentives. Earlier this week, DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove suggested a four point plan for tackling plastic waste, which includes cutting the total amount of plastic in circulation, reducing the number of different plastics in use, improving the overall rate of recycling, and making it easier for consumers to know what can and can’t be recycled.

The full report from the Environmental Audit Committee is available on their website here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/publications/

This entry was posted by Chris on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 00:00