AVOID UNECESSARY TRADE BARRIERS IN DRS WELSH GOVERNMENT URGED BY INDUSTRY VOICES
Leading industry figures that collectively represent the majority of Welsh pubs, hospitality, drinks producers and glass manufacturers have joined forces to urge the Welsh Government to avoid risking a trade barrier with the rest of the UK through the design of its forthcoming Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
DRS applies a deposit to drinks containers sold to consumers which is refunded when the empty container is returned. However the Welsh Government has signalled its intention to diverge from the schemes being planned in England and Northern Ireland by including glass and seeking a digital solution.
In an open letter, organised by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and signed by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Glass, UK Hospitality (UKH), The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM), industry experts have stressed the importance of ensuring that the UK’s devolved nations work together to create a fully interoperable if not a UK wide scheme, ahead of an anticipated announcement on the final details of the DRS scheme. They urge the Welsh Government to align around keeping glass out of the scope of materials.
The letter raises concerns about having a non-aligned DRS which risks creating trade barriers and increasing business costs, especially at a time when businesses are still recovering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and facing significant economic turbulence. It warns that the different decision over glass and a digital DRS will split the UK internal market and make it challenging for many producers to continue to operate in Wales, reducing consumer choice and increasing prices on the shop shelves.
Buster Grant, Director of SIBA’s in Wales, commented:
“It is vital for the future health and vitality of Wales’s economy that the Welsh government listens to the evidence and the voices of industry – including over 100 breweries here in Wales. They must ensure that a future deposit return scheme avoids building unnecessary trade barriers which could threaten local businesses, and instead work with industry experts to design a system that is fair and UK wide.”
Miles Beale, WSTA CEO, commented:
“Thankfully, England and Northern Ireland have decided not to include glass in their Deposit Return Scheme which is a huge relief for retailers and consumers and is better for the environment.
We would urge that DRS is fully aligned across the UK and that Wales continues with glass kerbside collections – just like the most successful schemes across Europe, including Wales’ very own existing scheme! Only an efficient UK-wide scheme that fully addresses the concerns of implicated business will avoid the risks and costs of cross border fraud, which will ultimately be passed onto consumers.”
UKHospitality Cymru Executive Director David Chapman said:
“If the Welsh Government is going to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme, it’s essential they continue to consult and work closely on implementation with the hospitality sector and, importantly, work on alignment with other Governments to ensure there is consistency across Great Britain.
“Significant differences between schemes, such as the inclusion of glass, will simply add cost to businesses, reduce consumer choice and, ultimately, threaten the success of the scheme. The industry needs workable proposals, time to implement them and regular engagement.”
British Glass’ Chief Executive Dave Dalton said:
“The simplest solution to tackling issues of interoperability between schemes, one that can help introduce a successful DRS as quickly and efficiently as possible, one that reduces the cost of the scheme, and one that ultimately is better for our environment, is to align around keeping glass out of the scope of materials.”
The joint letter can be read here.