Three consumer focus groups and three retailer focus groups1 were held in England, Scotland and Wales exploring retailers and consumers understanding of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and the impact it would have on their recycling habits and businesses. The focus groups were supplemented by consumer polling of 2,000 UK adults2 about their views on recycling, their preference for a Deposit Return Scheme vs existing kerbside recycling and where they would return their recycled goods to under a Deposit Return Scheme.
- Given the choice 70% of consumers favour their existing household collections, compared to 21% that favour a new Deposit Return Scheme.
- Consumers suggest they would recycle more if more packaging was recyclable (37%), packaging was more clearly labelled (35%) and their household recycling collection took a wide range of products (29%). Only 9% thought a Deposit Return Scheme would make them recycle more.
- The most vulnerable in society support household kerbside recycling; people with long term disability (73%), people aged 65 and over (76%) and carless households (70%)
- Space is at a premium in convenience stores. Convenience stores are generally under 280 square metres and 93% of independent businesses are under 186 square metres. Retailers suggest they would not have the space to collect, process and store returned packaging.
- Processing and collecting packaging in small stores would increase pressure on staff and increase queuing times in stores. 35% of consumers said they would return their recycled packaging to stores resulting in a high volume of packaging to be processed at local shops.
- Local shops are concerned about hygiene and health and safety issues associated with used packaging. Collecting used and soiled packaging could impact on their food hygiene rating and the need to invest in protective clothing for staff to handle soiled bottles and packaging.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “A deposit return scheme would impose massive time and cost burdens on retailers, many of whom are operating in very small stores that would be significantly adversely affected by the proposals. We encourage the Government to focus on recycling measures that are effective, popular with the public and don’t add costs to small shops, such as improving the existing kerbside recycling schemes.”
SGF chief executive Peter Cheema said: “From this UK-wide research we now have clear evidence of the highly negative impact of deposit return on both consumers and retailers.
DRS is too complex, too expensive and too burdensome on customers and small shops. We should be looking instead at investing in kerbside schemes and raising the awareness of consumers about how they can recycle more effectively.”
The research was acknowledged by Foodservice Packaging Association chief executive Martin Kersh who said: “This is a powerful piece of research from 2 well respected organisations. The results are crystal clear: DRS is unpopular with the public and if enacted would result in huge costs to smaller retailers without achieving any significant increases in recycling. For a long time we have highlighted the hygiene impacts of DRS in coffee shops and food to go outlets with huge hygiene risks in handling used packaging and fresh food at the till.”
Source: News – Packaging News