Wales’ leading marine charity has taken a deposit return machine into the Senedd giving Assembly Members the chance to see how a deposit return scheme (DRS) could work, and the impact putting a value on bottles and cans could have on reducing plastic pollution in Welsh seas.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) drop-in event showed a ‘Reverse Vending Machine’ accepting bottles and cans and returning a deposit directly to the customer.
Ogmore AM Huw Irranca-Davies along with his colleagues attended the event and tried out the machine provided by TOMRA, who install thousands of machines globally.
Speaking during the event Mr Irranca-Davies said: “Can we do something like this in Wales? Surely we have to. Faced with the tide that’s rising we have to take issues like this seriously and take measures like this.”
Gill Bell, MCS Head of Conservation in Wales, says: “Although Wales is the world’s third-best recycling nation, we need to move away from being a throwaway society. Putting a value on these items will lead to behaviour change. Countries where these schemes have been put in place have seen a significant reduction in littering of these items. We need a deposit return scheme in Wales for plastic and glass bottles, and drinks cans which will increase recycling rates, reduce beach litter and help meet our well-being goal of being a globally responsible Wales”
MCS has been running its annual Great British Beach Clean for 25 years around the UK coast and bottles and cans have consistently been in the top 10 of beach litter finds. In Wales in 2018, 53 drinks containers, including plastic and glass bottles and metal cans, were found on average for every 100 metres of Welsh beaches cleaned and surveyed.
70% of all litter found on UK beaches is plastic. UK consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year and it’s thought that more than three billion are simply thrown away. In other parts of the world bottle deposit return schemes have led to an increase in recycling rates.