Plaid Cymru have ensured majority support for a deposit return scheme in Wales.
The Shadow Spokesperson for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas AM has secured majority support for legislation on a deposit return scheme for Wales.
The AM for Mid and West Simon Thomas tabled a debate on a Member’s Legislative Proposal on Wednesday in the Welsh Assembly’s chamber which proposed that the Welsh Assembly notes the proposal for a waste reduction Bill in Wales, and the purpose of the proposed legislation would be to reduce waste, and in two particular ways: to address the need for a deposit-return scheme in Wales and to address the need to either ban, or at least have a levy on, polystyrene packaging in Wales.
The Plaid Cymru AM stated:
“Further waste reduction is needed if we are to reach the Welsh Government’s target to reduce waste by 70 per cent by 2025, and, to reach zero waste by 2050, a significant pace of change is needed.
“Plaid Cymru would also like to bring the zero-waste target forward to 2030 and, as stated already by the Welsh Government, Wales can, and should, become Europe’s best recycling nation. We are fourth, to be fair, but we can do even better.
“Wales’s recycling rate has doubled over the last decade, from just under 30 per cent in 2006-07 to over 60 per cent in 2015-16. However, not everyone recycles, and there are also local authorities that are significantly behind the pace of change.
“The current 58 per cent target of Welsh Government was not met by Newport, Torfaen, and Blaenau Gwent in 2015 and 2016. I believe, therefore, that a deposit-return scheme, through which customers pay a small additional charge for cans and bottles and are paid back when they return the empties, will incentivise people who do not already recycle and, indeed, will introduce an element of resource saving into our economy. This scheme should be available for plastic cans and bottles as well as metal ones and glass ones.
“Deposit schemes could also save local authorities money in the long-term through lowering the amount of household waste to be managed, reducing the need for sorting and disposal facilities, such as incinerators and landfill, and reducing the need for street cleaning.”
The Shadow Spokesperson for Energy, Climate Change and Rural Affairs Simon Thomas AM also insisted that waste reduction must be a combined effort and applauded the Marine Conservation Society for their work:
“The Marine Conservation Society has a petition before the Assembly currently and is supporting a journey by a clipper around the coast of Britain in August, which will be calling in Cardiff sometime in the month of August, called the Sea Dragon that will collate data on plastic in our marine environment. This is citizen science at its very best, in co-ordination with universities.
“Marine environment is there to be protected. And if anyone has undertaken a beach clean—they will know how many bits of plastic and returns from bottles are picked up at that stage. We should work together and ensure that we all do our bit to ensure a cleaner environment.
“Germany’s deposit-return scheme is the most successful in the world. That’s been in place since 2003. A charge of 25 euro cent is applied to all drink containers apart from milk and fruit and vegetable juices. As a result, 98.5 per cent of refillable bottles are returned by consumers, and this is the point: the quality of recovered material is good enough to guarantee that an old bottle will become a new bottle.
“So, many stakeholders, from the marine and environmental sectors to people like the Bevan Foundation, are calling for a tax on polystyrene to reduce its use, or even to drive out its use with more environmentally friendly alternatives. I think such legislation could deal with and help reduce waste enormously in Wales, but, more importantly, put us at the forefront of thinking in a European context.”