Wales politics

Bottle deposit scheme: Welsh ministers 'already working' on plan

Plastic bottles on a beach. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UK consumers use around 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year but more than three billion are not recycled

A UK-wide can and bottle deposit scheme to tackle waste is under discussion, the Welsh Government has said, as plans are unveiled in England.

Single-use glass and plastic bottles, as well as steel and aluminium cans, are likely to be targeted by England's environment secretary Michael Gove.

Consumers would get deposits back for returning containers under his plans.

Last week, Wales' Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn said consultants were considering deposit-return systems.

Details of the scheme for England are yet to be decided, including the size of the deposit, but costs in elsewhere vary from 22p in Germany to 8p in Sweden.

Mr Gove said plastic was "wreaking havoc" on the marine environment while discarded plastic bottles and cans "end up dumped on pavements and lobbed into rivers, lakes and the sea".

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Media captionRemember getting money back on your empties?

On Wednesday, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Recycling levels in Wales are some of the best in the world.

"To build on this success we are looking at the best ways to reduce waste and litter and recycle more and are already working with Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in England] on how a UK-wide scheme might work."

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Media captionSian Sykes, who is paddleboarding around Wales, says she has seen an alarming amount of waste in waterways

Last Wednesday, Ms Blythyn told AMs: "The latest data from the Waste and Resources Action Programme shows that Welsh local authorities' capture rate of plastic bottles for recycling from households in 2015 was 75%, up from 55% in 2009.

"We have commissioned consultants to conduct a study to examine the potential for extended producer responsibility schemes, which will include an analysis of deposit-return schemes."

She added: "I've had the first final draft of the summary of that report, and I hope to be able to publish that as soon as is practicably possible."

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Media captionFive ways to break up with plastic

On Wednesday, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said Wales was "fortunate to have beautiful countryside and beaches".

"Today's announcement [in England] marks another step forward in the fight against plastic waste, and I would call on the Welsh Government to consider the benefits of the scheme and explore the potential of introducing the same measures in Wales," he said.

His fellow Conservative, AM David Melding, called Mr Gove's plans "game-changing", asking the Welsh Labour government to "urgently review its approach on the issue, so that we can start tackling excessive waste in Wales once and for all".

Scotland has already announced plans for a deposit-return scheme.

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