COCA-COLA has come out in favour of a proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) being considered for Scotland.
Following a press storm in January over its alleged plans to block such a scheme, Coca-Cola executives told an event at Holyrood that its thinking had changed, in part because of experience in other countries
The campaign to introduce a DRS scheme in Scotland has been led by former cabinet secretary for the environment Richard Lochhead, with support from environmental groups.
The plan has met criticism from a number of trade groups who have raised concerns over the potential cost to retailers.
Scottish Grocer Federation chief executive Pete Cheema said it was “reasonable” for Coca-Cola to suggest DRS could offer a potential solution to problems with litter and recycling, however he added the SGF “firmly believe that DRS would have a significantly negative impact” on convenience store retailers.
“The Scottish Government should continue with its process of evidence gathering, feasibility studies and stakeholder engagement before it makes any decision on DRS – this process must take into account the concerns of the retail industry in Scotland,” said Cheema.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Reversing the supply chain so that retailers are storing used packaging and returning it to their suppliers is simply not practical, and we think the current focus on kerbside recycling by councils is a far more effective approach,” said Lowman.
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association was also critical. Partington said while DRS can operate effectively in some countries, it may not be suited to the UK “given we already have a well-established kerbside recycling system that is not found in countries where DRS do operate.”
A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said: “We’ve been talking to and listening to our consumers and know two thirds of them support the introduction of a deposit return system in the UK, and half say they’d be more likely to recycle as a result.
“From our experience elsewhere in Europe, we know that deposit schemes can work if they are developed as part of an overall strategy on the circular economy, in collaboration with all industry stakeholders.”
Responding to CCE’s perceived U-turn, Richard Lochhead MSP said the firm’s “change of heart” is a “very welcome and highly significant development in the campaign to introduce deposit and return schemes for drink containers to improve recycling and tackle litter”.