Wales to consider joining UK-wide deposit return scheme

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The Welsh government is “considering” a UK-based deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks containers, as part of a battery of measures to boost recycling and reduce waste.

The news, announced by Welsh Minister Hannah Blythyn, also includes plans for Wales to become the UK’s “first refill nation” with work under-way to improve access to drinking water in public places and a consumer behavioural change campaign to come.

The Welsh Minister is to meet her counterparts from the UK and Scottish governments, about the possible implementation of a DRS, next week.

The Scottish government announced plans to introduce a DRS last year, while the Westminster government is seeking to consult on the issue for England in the coming months.

“I am currently considering Wales’ involvement in a UK-wide deposit return scheme,” Blythyn said.

“Developing approaches on a UK wide basis can be less complicated for consumers and better for businesses who have told us they prefer this approach, particularly as we prepare for Brexit.”

“I am also considering making changes to regulations so that producers and retailers pay a larger share of waste management costs.”

“We continue to work with HM Treasury on a UK single-use plastics tax. At the same time we will continue to consider a tax, levy or charge on single-use beverage cups for Wales. The mandatory use of reusable cups and a potential pilot is also something I am considering.”

The minister also announced an additional £15m of capital funding to further improve Local Authority recycling collection systems and infrastructure, including for plastics.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) welcomed the Welsh government’s announcement about the DRS but called for “detailed consideration of the role that retailers could play,” in such a scheme, including the challenges and burdens that may arise from it.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Governments in different parts of the UK are rightly considering ways to improve recycling rates and reduce litter, and it is good to see ministers in Wales working to develop the best UK-wide approach.

“Convenience stores are keen to play their part in improving recycling rates, but current DRS proposals raise more questions than answers about implementation, cost and availability space in stores.”

A recent survey of 1,210 UK independent retailers found that 71% thought a DRS would be impractical to implement due to the space that it would require in their stores.

Meanwhile, Populus polling of 2,000 consumers in the UK found that 70% would prefer to use kerbside household recycling facilities over a DRS for bottles and cans.

Only 9% of consumers said that they would recycle more if a DRS was introduced.

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