Posted: Thu 8th Jun 2023

Cash for Cans: Flintshire Council mulls deposit return scheme to combat litter

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 8th, 2023

Flintshire councillors will look at how a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) could be implemented in the county as part of a national bid to reduce littering.

A DRS is a system which would see an extra fee charged when people buy a drinks bottle or can.

This deposit is refunded when the item is returned for recycling.

The Welsh Government is aiming to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) across Wales in 2025.

Plans have received strong support and The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed it will work with industry, Welsh Government, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland, to now set up the scheme.

The expected start date for the scheme is October 2025.

One was set to be introduced in Scotland next year, where the charge would be 20p, but this has been pushed back to October 2025 due to a dispute between the Scottish and UK Governments about the inclusion of glass products in the scheme.

At next week’s meeting of Flintshire Council’s environment scrutiny committee, members will look more closely at the scheme mooted for Wales after they requested a report be produced about it.

The report, authored by the council’s chief officer for Streetscene, says: “By creating a deposit return scheme, the aim is to increase the recycling rate of drinks containers and reduce littering.

“It is also believed that introducing such a scheme will help change consumer behaviour to encourage higher levels of drinks container recycling.

“Some countries have successfully used deposit return schemes (DRS) to increase recycling rates of drinks containers, with well-functioning schemes reported to be achieving collection targets of 90 per cent or higher.”

According to the report, a pilot scheme to run a digital DRS has already been trialled in an area of Conwy in partnership with Deeside-based firm Polytag.

A digital DRS system is based on the use of a unique code included on a drinks container.

When the code is scanned using a smartphone or another mobile device, it will allow a deposit to be returned to the customer, the report says.

It adds that all Welsh councils currently provide kerbside collections for plastic drinks bottles, glass drinks bottles and metal drinks cans.

Some authorities fear a DRS could have the effect of removing drinks containers from kerbside collections and impact recycling performance.

But the DRS in Wales is intended to work alongside kerbside recycling collections with costs of collecting and treating containers that end up in kerbside collections covered by the producers.

The report concludes that the cost to Flintshire Council of introducing a DRS scheme is unknown, but the majority of recyclable drinks containers will be processed by the authority’s waste service.

“At this stage, the likely impact on local authority resources is unknown”, the report says.

“However, the government response to the consultation outlined that, local authorities, and where relevant, waste operators, will be able to participate in the DRS by separating out containers and redeeming the deposit on them.

“They further outlined that they anticipate that the scheme will be collecting upwards of 90 per cent of DRS containers placed on the market from year three of the scheme’s operation and it is likely that many of those containers not returned will continue to travel through local authority waste streams.

“This means that local authorities and/or waste operators will need to separate out in-scope drinks containers found in their waste streams and then return these containers into the scheme, providing that they meet the quality required for return to receive the deposit amount which acts a financial incentive.

“It is anticipated that this is likely to require additional resources for sorting and separating materials found in the waste streams collected.”

Flintshire Council’s environment and economy overview committee meets on Tuesday (June 13) at 10am to discuss the report.

By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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