Retailers are calling on the government to review plans to introduce a bottle-recycling deposit return scheme (DRS) that may cost the sector at least £1.8bn a year, according to new research from the British Retail Consortium. 

If put into effect the DRS is estimated to cost the industry £1.8bn a year from 2025, which includes capital costs such as buying and installing return vending machines, labour, staff training and other operational costs.

This figure does not include the additional cost to set up a body to run the scheme, which is likely to be hundreds of millions of pounds, said the BRC. 

Retailers are calling on the government to rethink plans to avoid an “unnecessarily complex and costly scheme” after a similar DRS scheme in Scotland collapsed costing the industry tens of millions. 

BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said: “The proposed DRS is costly, complicated and cannot deliver the step change in recycling needed to justify it.

“By driving up costs by almost £2bn per year the government risks pushing up prices for ordinary households, just as inflation is coming down. Government must first introduce its household collection and packaging levy reforms so that it can assess the best way forward on a DRS.

“On its current course, it will be consumers who will pay the price of this unnecessarily hasty, expensive and complex scheme.”