Assembly Members try out deposit return machine

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 30 January 2019

Welsh Assembly Members saw first-hand today how a deposit return scheme (DRS) could work when MCS took a DRS machine to a drop-in event at the Senedd.

David Melding Wales DRS

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

Gill Bell,
MCS Head of Conservation Wales
Wales Ministers DRS

The Reverse Vending Machine took centre stage at the event in Tŷ Hywel, accepting bottles and cans and printing out a voucher which, when the scheme is up and running, would be exchanged for the initial deposit.

14 AMs attended the event which was sponsored by David Melding AM, with a machine provided by TOMRA – who install thousands of machines globally - comes at a time when DRS is high on the agenda. A DEFRA/Welsh Government consultation is expected to be launched in the coming weeks in England and Wales

Gill Bell, MCS Head of Conservation in Wales, says there is strong, cross-party political support for DRS in the country: “Although Wales is the world’s third best recycling nation, we need to move away from being a throwaway society to a circular economy - we believe 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”

Hannah Blythyn, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government (left in pic) who has responsibility for waste and recycling said: “It was interesting to have the chance to test the deposit return machine at the #StopthePlasticTide showcase today.

“It’s distressing to see and hear about the amount of plastic, cans and lids which are being found on our beaches and in our seas and it is heartening to see the work the Marine Conservation Society does in reducing beach and marine litter.

“Whilst Wales successfully captures at least 75% of plastic bottles for recycling from households we still need to prevent marine litter and recycle more. We will shortly be consulting jointly with England on a Deposit Return Scheme and I am keen to hear a wide range of views as part of this.”

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, and in Wales in 2018, on average, 53 drinks containers, including plastic and glass bottles and metal cans, were found on 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.

Sponsoring AM, David Melding said: “I’m so pleased to be able to bring this event to Cardiff Bay to give Assembly Members first-hand experience of how a deposit return scheme vendor actually works in practice.

“This is an idea which I strongly support, and I think if we were to head in this direction, it would be extremely beneficial for Wales to help us achieve our ambitions in recycling.

“There are a lot of elements in this type of system that need close examination to see how it would work best, but if we can learn anything from the countries that already operate them, it’s that they’re effective and have phenomenal results.

“I hope today’s event fires the starting pistol for the establishment of a deposit return scheme in Wales. Let’s make Wales plastic free!”

Huw Irranca-Davies DRS Wales (Huw Irranca Davies)

Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab) 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.”

Among the Assembly Members who attended the event were Paul Davies, David Melding, David Rees, Hannah Blythyn, Huw Irranca-Davies, Janet Finch-Saunders, Jenny Rathbone, Joyce Watson, Julie James, Llyr Gruffydd, Mark Isherwood, rebecca Evans, Rhun ap Iorwerth and Vikki Howells.

Gill Bell said she was delighted with the turnout: “We were thrilled to see so many AMs at the event and to see how engaged they were both with the issue and the DRS solution. It was great to see AMs from most parties talking to us and to each other. There’s a real appetite for DRS.”

Actions you can take

  1. Join the Plastic Challenge
  2. See our map of reported bottle sightings
  3. Survey showing public support
  4. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form
  5. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  6. Discover more about MCS in Wales
  7. Take your own reusable bottle out and about

Did you know?…

Over 60% of the population of Wales either live or work on the coast.

Basking sharks can be spotted feeding on plankton in Welsh waters

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces