8.0 Test Run of Business Forms
229. As part of the work to deliver Scotland’s DRS the new forms required for the scheme have been test-run with stakeholders to ensure they are clear, simple and easy to complete.
230. The Scottish DRS Regulations will require the following forms to be completed by stakeholders:
- A scheme administrator application form, originally entitled ‘A Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme: Application Form and Operational Plan Template’
- A producer registration form, originally entitled ‘Producer Registration form’
- A return point exemption application form, originally entitled ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’
- A voluntary return point approval form, originally entitled ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’
231. The original forms have been tested with a total of 14 businesses, represented by 19 members of industry. Thereby, the test exceeded the number of businesses required to be involved in the testing of new forms as stated in the BRIA guidance in order to be proportional to the scale of the DRS scheme.
232. Volunteer businesses were recruited through the DRS Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) Scheme Administrator working group and through the IAG Producer working group and the IAG Retailer working group.
233. Feedback was gathered through workshops in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Where workshop attendance was not possible, or to accommodate participants based in other areas of Scotland, a number of telephone interviews were also conducted.
235. The following paragraphs list the main feedback collected for each original form tested and detail the extent to which comments have been addressed in the updated forms. It is important to note that the below represents a summary of key findings from the feedback gathered. Issues are therefore only highlighted where there was broad agreement across participants.
8.1 ‘Producer Registration form’
236. The ‘Producer Registration form’ was tested by producers (companies that put a deposit-bearing product onto the market) and wholesalers (companies that sell deposit-bearing products to retailers for re-sale). In total, the Producer Registration form was tested by representatives from eight businesses.
237. Overall, the form was considered to be easy to read and understand. Feedback is summarised below.
238. Producers/wholesalers advised that it would be difficult to obtain the information required in the ‘Number of Scheme Articles placed on the market for retail sale in Scotland in the previous calendar year’ section, commenting that sales data was currently tracked at a UK-wide level and traceability mechanisms to identify Scotland only sales were not in place. This feedback was noted consistently across participating producers/wholesalers in relation to initial registration, though some participants commented that they would require to have systems in place to trace scheme article sales in Scotland in time for the start of the DRS and would therefore be able to provide this information for subsequent years.
239. Forecast information on sales (as required in the ‘Number of Scheme Articles you anticipate placing on the market for retail sale in Scotland in this calendar year’ section) was also noted by some producers/wholesalers as difficult to provide with accuracy as it was stated that type and quantity of sales could be impacted significantly over the course of the year, specifically by weather.
240. Producers/wholesalers suggested consideration should be given to making payment in ways other than credit card and an invoicing option was suggested as more standard for large businesses.
241. Producers/wholesalers also suggested that the form should accommodate the ability to append information on scheme articles in a spreadsheet to make it easier for them to draw in data from existing databases within their organisations. To ensure consistency of submission across different suppliers, it was suggested templates be provided including drop-down menus for spreadsheet columns and fixed fields for barcode entry. A template for the operational plan was also suggested for ease of completion and to ensure a clear structure is provided.
242. A few participants commented that barcode information should be sufficient when providing scheme article data.
243. Feedback from participating producers/wholesalers also included comments that, if completing the form online, the questions should be routed so that only relevant questions appear (this was noted at the ‘Applicant Type’ section of the form) and it was suggested that it should be possible to save data as it is entered so that forms can be completed over several sessions.
244. Producers/wholesalers also suggested the form would benefit from a number of small changes and explanations, either where terminology was unfamiliar or to improve clarity. This included suggesting hyperlinks to detailed explanations or supporting information (for example a link to a list of legal obligations for producers under the DRS and which of these would be assumed by the scheme administrator if they were registering a producer, was suggested at the opening section of the form).
245. Several participants commented on the nature of information being requested as commercially sensitive and commented that it should be explicitly stated what information provided would be accessible in the public domain. In particular, this was in reference to operational plan information, and the information on the number of packs/containers/articles being placed on the market.
246. The summary of feedback on the Producer Registration Form is presented in Table 17.
|Comments from Test Run||Changes to business form||Justification|
|Difficulty to obtain information required in the Number of Scheme Articles placed on the market for retail sale in Scotland in the previous calendar year section||No||A guidance document to support producer in their registration with SEPA is being drafted and will be providing advice on this point.|
|Difficulty to provide accurate information required in the Number of Scheme Articles you anticipate placing on the market for retail sale in Scotland in this calendar year section.||Yes||
Declaration statements updated to reflect that the information is accurate "at the time of completion", but that producer will be required by the Regulations to let SEPA know of any material changes to the information provided.
A guidance document to support producers in their registration with SEPA is being drafted and will be providing advice on this point.
|Consideration should be given to making payment in ways other than credit card, like invoicing||No||
It was deemed that invoicing was a costly unnecessary administrative burden. SEPA already requires credit card payments for other regimes.
|Ability to append information on scheme articles in Excel and provision of a template to ensure consistency of submission||No||
This will be developed by SEPA alongside the guidance document.
|Barcode should be sufficient when providing scheme articles data||No|
|Relevant routing of questions in online form||No||
Where an online form is developed, appropriate routing for questions will be taken into consideration.
|Explanations required on a number of occasions including around legal obligations for producers versus the scheme administrator under the scheme||No||
In order not to overly complicate the form with excess text, clarifications on these points will be included in the guidance document being produced.
|Nature of information being requested as commercially sensitive (scheme articles breakdown and operational plan)||No||
Commercially sensitive information will not be published by either SEPA or Scottish Government.
8.2 ‘A Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme: Application Form and Operational Plan Template’
247. The ‘A Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme: Application Form and Operational Plan Template’ could not be tested by a scheme administrator as such, as this entity has not yet been formed. It is expected that the scheme administrator or scheme administrators will form itself/themselves after the final Regulations are passed and will most likely be comprised of producers. The form was therefore tested by producers and wholesalers, as these stakeholders will also be required to provide information that feeds into the application. The ‘A Scheme Administrator for Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme: Application Form and Operational Plan Template’ were tested by representatives from eight businesses operating in Scotland.
248. Producers/wholesalers provided less feedback on this form, with several commenting they felt less able to make constructive comment as they felt the form was not intended for them.
249. The majority of participants considered the form to be clear, easy to read and understand and logical.
250. Producer/wholesaler feedback included comments that there was no need to outline scheme administrator obligations in the opening section of the form as the application was expected to be completed by an organisation specifically formed for the purpose of taking on the scheme administrator role. As such, they would already be familiar with their obligations, though some suggested a hyperlink to the full obligations may be useful.
251. Some participants commented that deadline information was critical to the application and should be included in introductory information at the start of the form. Timescales of the scheme administrator application and the relationship between this and deadlines for producer registration were of particular interest to participants, several of whom expressed concerns about the ability to appoint a scheme administrator in time.
252. Some participants suggested that guidance on the most appropriate person to complete the form and who should act as named contact may be helpful.
253. As with the Producer Registration form, there was feedback from producers/wholesalers that applicants were likely to face difficulty providing information on the number of scheme articles placed on the Scottish market in the previous year. This was considered more difficult for the scheme administrator than producers due to the volume of data being collated and the perceived difficultly of guaranteeing the accuracy of this data; and some participants commented the information should not be required as part of the application.
254. As with the Producer Registration form it was suggested that there should be the ability to append data on scheme articles in attached spreadsheets.
255. Some practical difficulties were commented on such as the ability of the scheme administrator to provide a VAT number as they may not be fully set up at this stage, and the need to give information on ‘Additional Benefits’ as part of the operational plan (section 5.0 of the form) if this information was not going to be considered when assessing the application, as well as on the volume of data required.
256. Producers/wholesalers commented that they would like to see some guarantee of confidentiality for the ‘Producer membership agreement’ detailed at Section 3.0 of the form, as the information it would include, such as relating to the allocation of financial risk, was considered commercially sensitive.
257. Discussion of the form also raised several questions/requests for clarification amongst participating producers/wholesalers pointing to the need for more communication and explanation of the scheme. For example, for some participants, there was uncertainty around collection times and whether this would be done “in accordance with pre-arranged timescales” as specified in the form (opening information, p.2), or on an ‘as-and-when’ basis as previously understood from participation in DRS working groups.
258. The summary of feedback on the Scheme Administrator Application Form is presented in Table 18.
|Comments from Test Run||Changes to business form||Justification|
|No need to outline scheme administrator obligations in opening section of the form – hyperlink to the full obligations may be useful||No||This information was left in the form as deemed to be a useful reminder. Where an online form is developed, appropriate formatting will be explored to maximise usability including using relevant hyperlinks.|
|Deadline information needing clarification||Yes||The dates have been updated to reflect the final set of Regulations Guidance on the most appropriate person to complete the form and who should act as a named contact|
|Guidance on the most appropriate person to complete the form and who should act as a named contact||No||It was deemed that it is the responsibility of the organisation to decide who is best placed to take on this role.|
|Difficulty to obtain information required in the Number of Scheme Articles placed on the market for retail sale in Scotland in the previous calendar year section||No||A guidance document to support producers in their registration with SEPA is being drafted and will be providing advice on this point. This also applies to producers being registered via a scheme administrator.|
|Ability to append information on scheme articles in Excel and provision of a template to ensure consistency of submission||No||SEPA will be developing a template for producers which in turn can be used by a scheme administrator for the producers they are registering on behalf of.|
|VAT number may not be fully set up at this stage||Yes||The relevant row heading has been updated to reflect that VAT number may not be available at the point of applying.|
|Questions around the need of providing information on Additional Benefits||No||As stated in the description of the Additional Benefits section, although many of these benefits are outside the scope of the Regulations, and therefore additional benefits are not part of the formal approval process, they are of significant interest to the public and the Scottish Parliament.|
|Consideration of commercially sensitive information in sections such as the Producer membership agreement||No||Commercially sensitive information will not be published by either SEPA or Scottish Government.|
|Requests for clarification for instance around collection times||Yes||The text has been updated to reflect the fact that collections are expected to be carried out either in accordance with pre-arranged timescales or on an ‘as needed’ basis, and these timescales are expected to be agreed between the scheme administrator and the return point.|
8.3 ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’
259. The ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’ was tested among retailers (businesses that sell deposit-bearing products to the public for use or consumption) and potential Voluntary Return Point organisations (location points other than a drinks retailer for the return of a deposit-bearing product). The ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’ was tested by representatives from six businesses operating in Scotland (some businesses were represented by more than one person and in total 11 people provided feedback on ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’).
260. Feedback on the ‘Applicant Form for Return Point Exemption and Voluntary Return Point Approval’ was largely positive and the form was considered generally easy to use and understand.
261. The language and terminology used in the form overall was considered appropriate and clear by participants.
262. Participating retailers/potential Voluntary Return Point organisations were particularly interested in the questions, asked of retailers applying for a return point exemption, about the physical location of their premises. The majority of participants advised that 20m did not seem a reasonable measure of proximity on which to base accepting or rejecting applications. This was deemed to be the case both across larger organisations (whose premises could be separated from other retailers by car parks of more than 20m), and small organisations operating in rural areas (where retailers may be hoping to share the burden of reverse vending machine purchase costs by having a single return point across a larger area with a small population).
263. There were also some suggestions about follow-up information once the form had been completed. A confirmation email on completion of the form was suggested, to confirm the application had been received and provide an application reference number. It was expected this email would also reiterate the timeframe for approval/rejection and provide information on next steps.
264. A number of other points were noted by one or more participants over the course of the test as requiring, or benefitting from, clarification in order to improve format, functionality or process. For example, it was suggested it could be made clearer who should fill out each part of the form, through including an instruction to explain this at the start of the form, or at the start of each section. Colour coding (as used in DVLA applications) was mentioned as a possible option to help with this. It was also suggested that it would be helpful to be able to upload/attach information to support applications (such as maps). Participants also sought clarification on whether one form per voluntary return point application was required or if organisations that had several locations could apply in a single form (the example given being if a charity wanted to become a Voluntary Return Point to raise money and wanted to operate from several return point locations).
265. Participants advised they expected that many retailers were likely to want help and support completing the form and several suggestions for supporting information were made over the course of workshops and interviews, including a telephone helpline. A guidance document setting out the responsibilities and processes for retailers and return point operators was also considered necessary by a number of participants, and it was suggested the information contained in this should be available in different languages.
266. Retailers/potential Voluntary Return Point organisations also highlighted the need for support in arranging an agreement with an alternative return point. Participants noted that knowing who to approach to enter into an agreement with might be difficult for retailers. It was suggested that guidance on this process was required and that a system needed to be in place to aid interaction between businesses, which some suggested should be part of the scheme administrator’s remit. Some participants also commented that retailers may be hesitant around joint working with competitors, particularly if they had to provide information on the number of scheme articles they expected to be returned to the alternative point, as it was noted that this information could be used to work out sales.
267. The summary of feedback on the Retailer Exemption Form and the Voluntary Return Point Application Form is presented in Table 19.
|Comments from Test Run||Changes to business form||Justification|
|20m did not seem a reasonable measure of proximity on which to base accepting or rejecting exemptions applications||Yes||
Additional guidance has been added to the relevant question to make it clear that, while applications with an alternative return point under 20m away will be more straightforward to process, applications over 20m will still be considered on their merits.
Further work will be undertaken to agree distance guidelines as part of the work to finalise the exemptions process.
|Notification and follow-up information to be received once form is completed||No||
Not applicable to the form at this stage.
|Clarification required around who each part of the form should be filled out by||Yes||
This information has been added to the form.
Also, for greater clarity the form has been split into two different forms (one for retailer exemptions application and one for voluntary return point approval).
|Ability to upload/attach information to support applications||No||
Not applicable to the form at this stage. Where an online form is developed, this will be taken into consideration.
|Clarification required on whether one form per voluntary return point application was required or if organisations could apply in a single form for several locations||No||
It was deemed clear enough that the information required in this form related to a single location.
|Help and support needed by retailers to complete the form (responsibilities and processes – different language formats)||Yes||
Extensive guidance has been added to the form on how to complete it and justification for data required.
|Support needed by retailers in arranging agreement with alternative return point||No||
This was deemed to be out of scope of the form.
|Retailers may be hesitant around joint working with competitors||No||
An alternative return point is required to obtain an exemption in order to ensure it remains as easy to return a container as it was to buy it. It is for retailers themselves, based on their business needs, to determine what terms they agree with an alternative return point.