Assembly Members try out deposit return machine

Date posted: 30 January 2019

Marine Conservation Society shows how easy it can be to use a money back scheme for bottles and cans

Wales’ leading marine charity has taken a deposit return machine into the Senedd to give Assembly Members the opportunity 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) hosted a drop-in event for Assembly Members and their staff today (30th January) where a Reverse Vending Machine took centre stage. The machine accepts bottles and cans and returns a deposit directly to the customer.

14 AMs attended the event, sponsored by David Melding AM, with the machine provided by TOMRA, who install thousands of machines globally. It comes at a time when DRS is high on the public 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”

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!”

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.

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.”

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Actions you can take

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

Did you know?…

Wales has a staggering 2,740 km of coastline

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

It is not unusual for turtles to frequent Welsh shores feeding on jellyfish

Contact our press team

Press line 01989 561580
Email info@mcsuk.org

Richard Harrington,
Head of Communications

Clare Fischer,
PR Manager

Jack Versiani Holt,
Communications Team Support Officer

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