Retail NI to oppose plastic bottle deposit return scheme
A retail body has expressed concern over plans in England for a deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles and aluminium cans.
Retail NI called on the Government to consider the implications that any introduction of a DRS and in-store reverse vending machines here would have on its smaller members.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced proposals which follow the lead of other European countries in a bid to boost recycling rates and cut litter.
But Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said any scheme that "forces retailers to take back bottles and cans" is not the right answer.
He said: "The deposit return scheme will have a significantly negative impact on our members who do not have the space in store to install expensive reverse vending machines.
"Also, for those who would have to collect the bottles manually, this would cause significant queues and potential flashpoints in store.
"We would urge the Government to think of the impact this would have on small independent retailers who contribute a huge amount to our local economy and encourage them to continue looking at more effective ways to tackle the problem of plastic recycling."
Similar bottle return schemes have already been successfully implemented across 40 countries.
Supermarket Iceland, which has around 20 stores in Northern Ireland and has plans to phase out plastic packaging on all its own brand products by 2023, said it had offered to trial the machines in its stores.
Budget grocery retailer Lidl also set targets for plastic reduction.
It said a DRS was one of the many initiatives it was considering as part of its plans.
The British Retail Consortium urged the Government to be "creative" in making the scheme convenient for people, "for example using municipal sites, not just shops in town centres".
Mr Gove said: "It is absolutely vital we act to curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled."