Plastic recycling – its impact on the retail sector
Following the news that the government is consulting on introducing a deposit return scheme for drinking containers, Valassis managing director Charles D’Oyly comments on how these measures will affect the retail sector.
“The proposed bottle deposit scheme represents a massive step in the right direction for improving the UK’s recycling rates. The UK has lagged behind the rest of Europe for far too long when it comes to recycling: 13 billion plastic bottles are used yearly in the UK, and 3 billion of these are not recycled.
“As the UK’s largest coupon and voucher services provider, working with retailers and brands around the world, we’re aware that there are a number of implications for both parties. The overall impact of this scheme is, as yet, unknown and largely depends on the ultimate design. Coupons, however, can play a large part.
“A reverse vending machine could deliver the deposit refund via a coupon. This coupon could be linked to the retailer, valid at selected – or all – supermarkets. Alternatively, the coupon could be valid only against a specific product. Supermarkets can also offer coupons at the tills in return for plastic.
“The advantages of offering coupons over cash are numerous. Cash can be easily pocketed and spent elsewhere – a coupon, however, can boost footfall by encouraging further in store spend, and the offer could even be tailored to a specific store or product. Surely a great benefit in what is an increasingly competitive retail environment.
“Who pays for the scheme, however, is a different consideration. In Germany, retailers and the beverage industry have to bear the costs, and in return, are allowed to keep any unclaimed deposits. But in other countries the cost is passed on to the consumer.
“Overall, the retail industry seems to be receptive to the government’s proposal. We know that some supermarkets have already endorsed the proposed scheme. Likewise, many brands support environmentally friendly initiatives.”