On-trade should be exempt from DRS

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Support for deposit return scheme but opinion is split

There’s support for including DRS-related information on containers

TRADE group UK Hospitality has called for on-trade businesses to be exempt from any form of a deposit return scheme (DRS).

It put forward the view in its submission to a Scottish Government consultation on how a DRS could work in practice in Scotland.

Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at UK Hospitality, said in the group’s submission that any DRS scheme should “centre on avoiding confusion and unnecessary cost for businesses”.

And he stated that hospitality businesses “which are serving customers who will consume drinks and other products served in containers which fall within the scope of a DRS for consumption on the premises should not be required to charge a deposit to such customers”.

An analysis of that consultation, which garnered over 3000 responses, found support both from organisations and the general public for the introduction of a DRS, with a minimum deposit charge of between 15p and 20p per container. It also found that 65% of respondents were in favour of a ‘staged approach’ – starting with a core set of materials (eg. PET plastic, metal cans, glass bottles) and then expanding its scope in the future.

Organisations and individuals agreed that producers should be required to put DRS-related information on containers.

While individuals supported a DRS that includes the “widest range of materials possible”, organisations were more likely to support a scheme which targeted either PET plastic containers only; PET plastic and metal cans; or PET plastic, metal cans and glass containers.

Hospitality respondents also stated that a focus solely on PET plastic containers “would minimise disruption and adverse impacts on small businesses, such as independent brewing companies, who would be required to have separate bottling runs for any products sold in glass containers in Scotland”.

There was also said to be “no clear consensus” about which of the four DRS systems suggested would work best – but there was agreement between organisations and individuals that a deposit return in Scotland should be “easy to use for consumers and other key stakeholders (producers, retailers, manufacturers)” and that it would preferably be part of a UK-wide system.

An advisory group is expected to meet soon to discuss the implementation of DRS in Scotland.