Why we must fight a Deposit Return System together

Why we must fight a Deposit Return System together

The last 2 weeks have been dominated by the consultation taking place in Scotland on the introduction of a deposit return system (DRS) for beverage containers. With Scotland actively lobbying the UK Government to introduce the scheme UK wide this is very much an issue that has a huge implications for the UK foodservice sector.

A Deposit Return System means a deposit added to all beverage containers (metal, beverage cartons, glass and plastic). The consumer has to store  containers separately from other recyclables, leave out of recycling bins and return to any retailer selling beverages whether stocking the brand or not. The retailer has to sort, store and account for all the containers received. A centralised collection agency is notified when an agreed volume has been taken in a collection is arranged.

This all adds up to a major administrative and financial burden for foodservice operators. For a mere £30,000 plus installation a Return Vending Machine can be installed at individual retail sites. No surprise that leading the charge for a DRS are the manufacturers of Return Vending Machines. Assuming £30,000 is beyond their range then smaller foodservice operators are faced with the logistics (space and hygiene) of receiving used containers back at the till, storing and dividing them into material type.

The Scottish proposals cover beverages from whisky to milk with soda, smoothies and juices in between.  While the impact so far is on ‘sealed containers’ who knows where this could all lead. Hence we need to challenge the development now. Of course we may feel it could never happen here. But that’s what we said about carrier bags and we don’t need reminding about what happened with them.

We are part of the Packaging Recycling Group Scotland chaired by INCPEN. The PRGS has an excellent counter proposal that has been put to the Scottish Government. With members including the major beverage manufacturers and material and pub trade associations, Scotland has a powerful alternative but the Government and Zero Waste Scotland still seems blinkered on the deposit solution despite the chaos and financial losses to both foodservice and Local Authorities that will result should it be introduced. To date DEFRA has been against deposits but then they weren’t in favour of bag charges prior to being a Government policy.

Conversations with major grocers and foodservice operators has highlighted their opposition to the DRS and they have expressed their wish to work with the FPA in opposing the introduction of a UK wide DRS.

Issues impacting directly on foodservice operators and caterers have consequences for the foodservice packaging sector and indeed vice versa. To provide an effective lobby to these proposals and the many that will impact on the market, foodservice operators, caterers, packaging manufacturers and distributors must work together. Not only to oppose harmful and unnecessary legislation but also to prove the sector has alternative and better solutions. We are therefore pleased to be achieving a major increase in dialogue with foodservice operators, caterers, grocers and grocery manufacturers.

The dialogue is needed if we are to make progress on the key issues of litter, potential material bans and increasing the recycling of foodservice packaging so please encourage your customers to take a look at this new website and join us in opposing all moves directed towards legislating away our market. We’re are all very much stronger together.