The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on Welsh Labour to be more ambitious in its war on plastic and introduce a bottle deposit scheme in Wales.
While welcoming the long-delayed plans to ban single-use carrier bags and plastic drinking straws in Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats said there was more to be done.
Under legislation introduced today, single-use carrier bags, plastic drinking straws, plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers and cotton buds would all be banned under the proposed new law.
Research from Wrap Cymru estimates that 400,000 tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Wales each year, with 67 per cent of that waste being packaging. Another report by the Marine Conservation Society found that there were 29 drinks containers for every 100 meters of beach in Wales.
A Deposit Return Scheme, also known as a bottle deposit scheme, encourages people to recycle drinks containers such as plastic or glass bottles. People pay a small deposit for the container which is paid back when it is returned to a collection point. In Norway, the scheme has led to 95 per cent of bottles being recycled.
The UK Government is currently devising its own bottle deposit scheme, but the scheme has faced severe delays prompting the Welsh Liberal Democrats to call for Wales to copy Scotland and go ahead with its own scheme.
The Conservatives first announced they would seek to introduce a UK-wide deposit scheme in 2018, but earlier this year quietly pushed back the project to “2024 at the very earliest”.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:
“The plans to ban single use plastics outlined today are positive even if delayed and will have our support. However, we are calling on Labour to continue the war on plastic to protect the Welsh countryside, its waters and wildlife by introducing its own deposit return scheme. The continued delays at Westminster only serve to demonstrate tackling plastic pollution is not high on the Conservatives agenda.
“Not only have Conservative plans been delayed, but Wildlife and Countryside Link have published a report showing that the plans look set to be watered down substantially, placing limits on size and potentially excluding glass products.
“We already know such a scheme would have widespread public support, with a survey by YouGov & the Countryside Charity finding that 76 per cent of British public support the scheme for plastic and glass drinks bottles and aluminium cans.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have always been the most environmentally aware of the Welsh political parties and action to protect our wildlife, waters and countryside is at the heart of what we are fighting for. We are calling on Welsh Labour to match our ambition, we simply cannot afford to wait for the Conservatives delayed plans.
“Scotland has already moved ahead with its own scheme which will be operational by next summer, there is no reason why we in Wales cannot do the same.”