WE are all aware of the detrimental effect that poor waste management and lazy recycling habits have on our environment. As individuals we usually need a prompt; Scotland has prioritised reducing its carbon footprint at the consumer level through goals set out by the Scottish Government and incentives such as the provision of household recycling facilities available throughout the country.

The implementation of the deposit return scheme (DRS) is another step in that direction. However, it is set to have a significant impact on businesses in terms of cost and space. So, what does this mean for retailers? What do they need to think about, and how can they best make this a positive for their business?

The scheme will transform the way we recycle. From July 1, 2022, all single-use drinks containers will have a 20p deposit added to their retail price. A case of 24 beers will cost an extra £4.80 and you will receive this deposit back when you return the empty containers to a store.

Nearly all retailers who sell single-use containers will need to impose the DRS. This of course comes with some practical and commercial considerations that should be addressed now to ensure provisions are in place to coincide with its roll-out.

Each retailer will need to offer dedicated facilities in-store or nearby to allow people to deposit their empties and get their money back. The scale will differ greatly. From the newsagent taking back a few bottles a week to the supermarket giants operating container-like reverse vending machines. The cost of implementation is to be met initially by individual companies, but this is expected to be reimbursed by the DRS administrator, which we’re awaiting more information about.

This throws up commercial challenges. In addition to buying the plant and employing people to manage the process, some retailers will need to make substantial alterations to their business premises. Many will need to take their landlords along with them on that. Some in shared estates such as retail parks and shopping centres will need to get their landlords to agree to adopting the scheme. Retailers with good recycling facilities will be hoping to gain a commercial advantage in terms of attracting customers once the DRS scheme goes live.

We can expect to see supermarket giants with plentiful car parking spaces thrive when DRS legislation takes effect. We are advising many clients on preparatory works already – some of the works required will be substantial and will need planning and other consents from the local authority as well as approval from landowners.

So at the moment the job is to help the retailers understand what they can expect to have to do and how they can do it. Not all of the things to be done are within the retailers’ control, so you could anticipate that getting all of the necessary approvals in place could take anything up to 18 months or so.

Although the scheme will deliver serious long-term benefits, there is understandable concern about some of the immediate demands. However, it is for everyone in the retail and property sectors to realise the value the scheme will make and to play their part in making it a success.

Already we have received positive feedback from clients in the market who are keen to be at the forefront of the scheme. If retailers and landlords alike grasp the issue now, they can have confidence of compliance ahead of the new legislation coming into play.

Nick Taylor is a Real Estate Partner at international law firm Addleshaw Goddard