Retailers will not “be out of pocket” in plastic bottle deposit return scheme

The introduction of the plastic bottle deposit return scheme (DRS) will have no negative financial effect on retailers, according to new research.

Following the government’s announcement last month that the DRS scheme is set to be rolled out across the UK, new analysis from a similar system in Norway has revealed the effects on retailer’s finances will be minimal.

In the scheme, a variable tax will be placed on all drinks in plastic containers in the form of a deposit.

Customers can then return the empty containers to retailers for a small cash sum. Retailers would also be responsible for recycling the bottles after they’re deposited.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which spearheaded the initiative in the UK and has been lobbying for its introduction for 10 years, has reportedly found that businesses would not suffer a financial loss despite imposing price hikes.

“This analysis of the deposit return system cycle should dispel any misconceptions that retailers or consumers may have about how the system will work, and more importantly how it is funded,” Samantha Harding litter programme director at the CPRE said.

“No one will be out of pocket, so long as the bottles and cans are returned.”

Only 43 per cent of plastic bottles are currently recycled in the UK, but in countries like Germany which introduced a similar DRS scheme in 2003, this number stands at 99 per cent.

“Introducing a system that only collected half of what it could would be a costly mistake,” Harding added.

“We need the maximum number of retail-based return points. And it should be mandatory, as a voluntary system simply wouldn’t work.”

Michael Gove, who announced the plans last month, is due to debate the scheme with MPs in Parliament later today.

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  1. I have been looking at the impact of introducing new Container Deposit Schemes in countries which have not experienced one before, or at least, not for many decades.
    The one proposed for the UK, seems to have as one of its basic features that consumers will take their empties back to the store from which they purchased the beverage originally.
    If you look at the USA experience you will see you that while this was the way CDS started years ago, it just doesn’t work these days.
    The main reason is that where once consumers purchased beverages at small local retailers, they now do the majority of their shopping at Supermarkets and Malls.
    These type of retail outlets do not lend themselves to easily handling of containers returned for a small deposit.
    That is why in Australia, for instance, Collection Depots, and Reverse Vending
    Machines form the basis of our CDS programs.
    I would suggest that whatever scheme is introduced, it should be modelled on one that is “working” elsewhere.

    Best of luck!


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