Further to WAQ76860 will the Cabinet Secretary state when she will announce whether there will be a deposit-return scheme for drinks containers, the amount of money spent on the project so far, and provide a list of solutions to the impact of single-use plastics on the environment being considered?
I am considering the possibility of a UK-wide Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers and I met my counterparts from the UK and Scottish Governments to discuss this issue in July. I am keen to ensure that any scheme delivers optimum benefits for Wales and that we take account of risks and benefits to existing provision and recycling levels here, including the possible effect on Local Authorities’ statutory recycling targets. We are currently working to assess the possible impacts of a DRS and no decisions will be made until the outcome of a public consultation later this year.
£500 thousand has been allocated in the current Assembly budget for the development of a possible DRS. Welsh Government officials are currently working with officials in Defra and Scottish Government regarding a potential DRS.
The Welsh Government also continues to work with Defra and the other devolved administrations on amendments to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended). ‘Packaging’ is any material used to hold, protect, handle, deliver or present goods. This includes packaging for raw materials right through to finished goods, and will therefore include many examples of single-use plastics, such as food and drinks containers. Revising the current system provides huge potential to deliver greater levels of waste prevention, reuse and recycling, greater recycled content, and less litter.
Other possible solutions which may contribute to reducing the impact of single-use plastics include our ambition for Wales to become the first ‘Refill Nation’ in the World. We are working with Welsh businesses, charities and major events to significantly reduce the use of plastic water bottles, with refill points and stations across the country. We are aiming to deliver a Refill scheme into every community along the Wales Coastal Path within a year.
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance has provided information, in answer to your previous question (WAQ 76860), specifically related to the work under his portfolio to consider a disposable plastics tax. The Welsh Government is working with HM Treasury following their call for evidence on single use plastics, to help inform the best way forward in the coming months. At the same time, we are also continuing to consider the possibility of a tax, levy or charge on single-use beverage cups for Wales.
I can confirm we are also seeking to work closely with the UK Government and Devolved Administrations in relation to any action to ban specific single use plastic items, such as straws, stirrers, and cotton buds. Other potential options to reduce the impact of other single use plastics on the environment are also being considered as part of wider European Union proposals currently being developed.