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Deposit Return Scheme: What local authorities think

Deposit Return Scheme: What local authorities think

A new report from APSE - Deposit Return Scheme: Lessons from Scotland and implications for the rest of the UK - brings together the concerns of local authority waste teams across Scotland ahead of the roll-out of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS); examining what the implications of this Scheme will be on service delivery in Scotland as well as for local authorities across the rest of the UK which will face similar measures in the coming years.

The report provides information on the UK perspective as well as an overview of other schemes, which have been implemented or are being considered across Europe. It also contains detailed information collated from roundtables and survey work with local authorities within Scotland, who are at a more advanced stage of developing a DRS.

Speaking about this new report, Paul O’Brien, APSE Chief Executive said, “Across the UK over three quarters of all councils have declared a Climate Emergency. Waste and recycling for many councils is a core service and is therefore central to many of those pledges on climate change. This research aims to provide APSE’s UK wide membership with information and analysis to help those within waste and recycling services to consider the challenges, and opportunities, presented by a DRS”.

Whilst many APSE member councils may support the principles of a Deposit Return Scheme in creating higher quality recycling materials and supporting a circular economy approach, there are also many unanswered questions. This timely report provides a platform for local authorities to air their views and offer practical solutions to how the DRS can be successfully implemented.

O’Brien added “Without the necessary input of local government, the DRS, and its purported benefits, will falter, thereby jeopardising local, regional and national environmental targets. I therefore highly commend this report to governments across the UK.”

Following extensive consultation with our members, APSE makes the following recommendations:

  1. Go Live Date

We recommend that local councils continue to be kept fully informed as well as consulted with on progress of the implementation timescales in order to enable changes and modifications to services to ensure a planned and smooth transition for the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme.

  1. Support for revised compositional analysis

We recommend that all councils are offered support to create new data, based on up-to-date compositional analysis. Whilst we recognise existing compositional analysis may still be reasonably valid in some areas this is not universal and appropriate targeted support should be available to all councils to ensure that the data being used to drive decisions, including operational and financial modelling is fit for purpose.

  1. Modelling software to gauge the impact of changed assumptions

We recommend access to suitable software for all local councils to enable real time decision making and forward planning. This would be a low-cost solution but provide the opportunity to plan for changes with different scenarios. This avoids decisions being made on out of date, inappropriate or unrealistic assumptions.

  1. Charter review to consider the views of local councils

We recommend that the Charter and associated Code of Practice is reviewed with full consideration of the potential impact of the DRS on the ability of local authorities to comply with a code designed in a pre-DRS era.

  1. VAT on Deposits

We would respectfully request that the Scottish Minister for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes, MSP and Lorna Slater MSP, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity write to their counterparts in Westminster to demand an urgent resolution to this matter.

  1. Contract advice and securing Best Value

We recommend that urgent advice is provided to local councils, which is consistent with their Best Value Duty, and which provides assurances on contractual issues; including the potential for compensation sums to current contractors / service providers. Arguments of Force Majeure may not hold since this is a creature of the contract itself and not a common law issue. It is therefore essential that advice is provided in a timely and consistent way.


The full report can be downloaded using this link

For more information about this report, and interview opportunities please contact Mo Baines on mbaines@apse.org.uk or Matt Ellis at mellis@aapse.org.uk


Wish to discuss the DRS in more detail...join APSE for one of our upcoming events 

Charlie Devine, Service Manager, Dundee City Council, will be discussing the DRS and the issues for local authority waste and recycling collections at APSE's upcoming Environment Act Seminar on Wednesday 23 February. You can book your place here.

We will also be discussing the DRS in greater detail at the  APSE Scotland Fleet, Waste and Grounds seminar 2022, Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 May 2022, in Aviemore. Book your place here. 

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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