Wrexham Council opposes plans for plastic bottle deposit return scheme to start in Wales by 2024
Wrexham Council has voiced its opposition to plans for a plastic bottle deposit return scheme (DRS) to be introduced in Wales by 2024.
The UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is consulting on proposals to charge an extra fee when people buy a drinks bottle or can.
They would then get their money back if the empty item is taken back to be recycled in a bid to reduce litter and boost recycling rates.
Scotland has already decided to move forward with such a scheme and is set to be the first nation in the UK to introduce it in 2022, setting payments at 20p.
However, officials from Wrexham Council said the idea of implementing the initiative in Wales from 2024 would be premature and could harm the local economy.
In the local authority’s response, Rachel Penman, head of service strategy for the environment, said: “We believe that the date of 2024 is too ambitious and not realistic, given the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are aware that people’s professional, domestic and social habits have significantly changed over the last 12-18 months; and have no doubt that even with easing of restrictions, people’s habits will remain permanently changes to some degree e.g. reduced commuting to work, increased online shopping.
“This will impact the previous habits of visiting the supermarket and being able to use reverse vending machines on-site.
“We suggest that more time needs to be taken to understand people’s longer-term habits following the changes made in Covid-19.”
She added: “We would also express some concern about the local economy, and in particular smaller businesses who may be required to make changes under this proposed legislation.
“Given the challenges of 2020 and 2021, this may prove detrimental to their recovery and ultimately to their survival.”
It’s the second time the council has raised objections to such proposals.
The Welsh Government previously consulted on a similar initiative, which the authority argued would cause confusion for members of the public and be expensive for producers.
Despite expressing reservations, Ms Penman said the council would support the suggestion of limiting the scheme to “on-the-go” drinks containers of less than 750ml.
She said: “An ‘on the go’ DRS would be less disruptive, and simpler to implement.
“It is also likely to be more easily understood by the public.
“The footprint of an ‘on the go’ DRS would be smaller, the installation and ongoing costs would be lower, and the logistics of managing these processes and systems would be smaller.”
The council’s deputy leader David A Bithell is set to use his delegated powers to approve the response tomorrow (Tuesday, 8 June).
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter
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