The Deposit Return Scheme
Just so’s you know before I begin, I don’t lie awake at night worrying about what’s going on north of the border. I get enough insomnia inducing headaches as it is, what with the shenanigans at St. James’ Park starring Mike Ashley and the rest of the acts in the Toon circus.
Not a lot of people know this, but I have… let’s call it, ‘a sneaking admiration’ for Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. She’s done well for Scotland, IMHO, but I think this latest gambit might backfire on her.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no gripe with a Deposit Return Scheme. In fact, collecting stray bottles of pop and taking them to the nearest ‘offy’ financed many’s the bag of crisps when I was a lad. Like you, I’ve seen all those David Attenborough programmes and I don’t want to see oceans swimming in plastic waste any more than you do: but Scotland’s decision to go it alone with this scheme, rather than waiting to act in concert with the rest of the UK, is going to be a bloody nuisance for us at ARN.
The Scottish Deposit Return Scheme will cover glass and plastic bottles, as well as aluminium and steel drinks cans, sold from any shop (or vending machine) north of the border. Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Environment Secretary, can’t be faulted when she says: ‘There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations.’ She added, ‘international evidence showed ‘a well-run, appropriately targeted scheme could improve the environment, change attitudes to recycling and litter, and support a more circular economy’.’
I ‘d have no problems with any of that, if only it applied to the whole of the UK.
Every plastic and glass bottle, every can, will have a surcharge of 20p, refundable when the item is returned. From my working out, our Scottish customers will have to pay almost a fiver more for every case of drinks that come under the jurisdiction of the deal. And that’s all of them. Here’s the problem, though: In England, Wales and Ireland, the charge won’t apply. It means that identical products in our warehouse will have two separate price points, not to mention a stack of additional admin as big as The Old Man Of Hoy.
Our warehouse may be massive, but it’s already choc-a-block with products. We have around 200 lines that will come under the scheme. Instead of having one stack of a given product, the Deposit Return Scheme means we’ll have to have two. Where are they going to go? In the car park?
I’m not alone in thinking that the whole thing is flawed. Ewan MacDonald-Russell is Head of Policy for the Scottish Retail Consortium, and he says that the Deposit Return Scheme ‘will impose enormous costs on retailers and producers. These decisions risk hampering retailers without effectively delivering the environmental improvements we all want to see.’ Agreed, but what about us wholesalers, Ewan?
As things stand, you can imagine people raiding recycling bins in England and driving up north to cash in, only to find out they can’t: a bottle on which a deposit has been paid will have an identifying stamp on it.
Be that as it may: Scotland going it alone is going to mean major headaches. And headaches lead to sleepless nights…
Meanwhile, back to work.
Chief Executive, Automatic Retailing Northern Ltd.
There’s more wit and wisdom from John Crichton on Planet Vending. Click HERE