A Deposit Return Scheme is when you pay, say 10p extra for a bottle of pop, or 20p for a bad boy litre of the stuff. When you finish that bottle, you can take it back to the shop, supermarket or community facility and get your 10p/20p deposit back. This is something Wales once did back in the day, but when the industry converted from glass bottles to plastic, the initiative was soon drawn to an end. There’s no reason why we can’t adopt it again. It’s similar to paying a pound for a trolley in the supermarket, once you’re done, you take it back, get your pound back. This is the same idea, you're borrowing the bottle.
In Wales we use around 725,000 plastic bottles a day but it is estimated that only 50% of these are currently recycled. The remaining bottles ending up as either litter or in landfill. (KWT Drink related litter report 2015)
This scheme is used in many European countries already, and some US States too. It’s proven to increase recycling massively, with Germany reaching almost a 100% recycling rate. We can use their skills, knowledge and experience on the scheme to help implement it in Wales. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, and by doing so, we could potentially almost eliminate the amount of single use bottles that go into landfill and make sure that they end up being recycled.
On a brisk walk Monday evening, I found around 8 cans and bottles lying around on the coast of porthcawl, all within a throwing distance of each other. I could have made a quid in 5 minutes picking those up… We really need to move away from the idea that picking up litter, whether your own or someone else's, is not cool. If anything it’s radical. This deposit charge is not an attack, it’s not a tax, it’s an incentive; an incentive to do the right thing. England want to fine litterers, but we think it’s better to motivate them to do the right thing with a positive incentive, instead of a threat.
Friends of the Earth Cymru are working on getting the Welsh Government to commit to increasing recycling rates to 85% by 2030. If we had a DRS in Wales, it would be a sure fire way of smashing the Welsh Government's recycling target of 70% by 2025, and aim higher than ever; making a Zero Waste Wales possible by 2040 (wouldn’t that be great?)
Wales was recently announced number 3 in the world's top recyclers. As a proud Welsh woman, I’m super happy of this achievement, but we could be doing so much better, so let’s not become complacent. A DRS in Wales means we could be reaching for the top spot, which I fully believe is within our reach if we focus on reducing non recyclable plastic waste, and making sure that the recyclable stuff is in fact, recycled, and not littering our river banks and gorgeous beaches. We did it with the bag charge, Wales can lead the way in the UK for a DRS too!