The Welsh Retail Consortium has outlined its opposition to a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Wales, highlighting the leading role its members are playing in helping to mitigate and adapt to the environmental challenges of climate change and the need to move to a more circular economy.
Following reports this week that environmental bodies have called for a DRS for bottles, cans and cartons the leading association for retailers in Wales has said that such a scheme could lead to increased costs for consumers as well as having a negative impact on the existing recycling infrastructure.
Sara Jones, Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said: ‘Retailers are not just trying to minimise their own waste, they are working hard to help households – and their supply chain – reduce both their food and packaging waste and have made significant progress in this under the Courtauld Commitments facilitated by WRAP.
The introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme in Wales is of real concern to our members. With Welsh consumers paying on average 7 per cent less for their basket than the Eurozone, retailers continue to make a substantial economic and social contribution to Wales through the taxes they pay, the jobs they create, by keeping down costs for households and through the routes they open up to markets elsewhere in the UK and overseas for local producers and manufacturers.
Any such scheme would see an increased burden on vulnerable customers, it would fail to recognise the wide ranging cost on businesses and to take account of the wider environmental impact of a DRS including increased carbon emissions from retailers and consumers. There is the real possibility that any such scheme would undermine the existing recycling infrastructure that is providing year on year improvement.
The WRC maintains that there are neither discernible benefits nor strong evidence that point to a reason for the introduction of a DRS scheme in Wales. In 2005 a leading group of retailers announced five targets on reducing the direct environmental impact of the retail industry. These targets came to an end in 2013 and all have been exceeded. In January 2014 a new set of targets and commitments were created up to 2020 and WRC members are working hard to ensure that retail plays an active role in mitigation and adaptation to environmental challenges.