Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh Government to forge ahead with its own deposit return scheme, citing the “unacceptable” delay of plans by the Conservative Government to introduce a joint England, Wales and Northern Irish scheme.
A Deposit Return Scheme, also known as a bottle deposit scheme, encourages people to recycle drinks containers such as plastic or glass bottles. People pay a small deposit for the container which is paid back when it is returned to a collection point. In Norway, the scheme has led to 95 per cent of bottles being recycled.
Research from Wrap Cymru estimates that 400,000 tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Wales each year, with 67 per cent of that waste being packaging. Another report by the Marine Conservation Society found that there were 29 drinks containers for every 100 meters of beach in Wales.
The Conservatives first announced they would seek to introduce a UK-wide deposit scheme in 2018, but earlier this year quietly pushed back the project to “2024 at the very earliest”.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “We are calling on the Welsh Government to take the bold action needed to protect the Welsh countryside, its waters and wildlife by introducing its own deposit return scheme. The continued delays at Westminster only serve to demonstrate tackling plastic pollution is not high on the Conservatives agenda.
“Not only have Conservative plans been delayed, but Wildlife and Countryside Link have published a report showing that the plans look set to be watered down substantially, placing limits on size and potentially excluding glass products.
“We already know such a scheme would have widespread public support, with a survey by YouGov & the Countryside Charity finding that 76 per cent of British public support the scheme for plastic and glass drinks bottles and aluminium cans.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always been the most environmentally aware of the Welsh political parties and action to protect our wildlife, waters and countryside is at the heart of what we are fighting for. We are calling on Welsh Labour to match our ambition, we simply cannot afford to wait for the Conservatives delayed plans.
“Scotland has already moved ahead with its own scheme which will be operational by next summer, there is no reason why we in Wales cannot do the same. With the eyes of the world on the UK as the COP26 Climate Conference takes place in Glasgow, now is the time for Wales to lead not fall behind.”