Businesses to be charged clean-up costs if customers dump litter in Wales

Companies will be penalised if their packaging is harder to reuse or recycle or if they fail to hit recycling targets. Credit: PA Images

Businesses will be charged clean-up costs if their packaging is littered under new rules in Wales.

Wales and the other UK nations have introduced new "polluter pays" rules, which will also make companies that sell packaged goods pay for their waste to be recycled.

Companies responsible for the most commonly-littered items will also be required to pay for the clean-up in Wales and Scotland.

The "landmark changes" are part of Welsh Government efforts to become a 'zero waste nation' by 2050, and will come into force in 2024.

Wales is ranked third in the world for domestic recycling, the Welsh Government said.

Coffee cups are some of the hardest items to recycle, the Welsh Government said. Credit: Welsh Government

Under the new rules, businesses will be charged based on the amount and type of packaging they place on the market.

Additionally, all packaging will need to display a standard recycling logo to help consumers know what they can recycle.

Businesses will be fined if their packaging is harder to reuse or recycle or if they do not meet recycling targets, with the money being used to improve household waste collection.

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, asked: "How did we get to a point where a quick snack can be wrapped up in materials that take hundreds of years to break down?"

He said littering can "wreak havoc on our wildlife and our health", and hopes the changes will force businesses to think harder about their packaging.

Fast food chains will also have to provide dedicated recycling bins in-store from 2024 for the collection of paper-based disposable cups. Credit: PA Images

"We are going further again, by committing to charge producers if their items are commonly littered," Mr Waters said.

"We will not shy away from the challenges ahead. Since devolution, we have worked incredibly hard to turn around our recycling record, from being one of the world's worst to one of the best.

"With a team Wales effort we can create a real circular economy where we recycle and reuse, strengthening our local supply chains, reducing our reliance on imports and protecting the planet. World events show us just how urgent this is."

The Federation of Small Businesses Wales said 79% of small businesses surveyed last year support the polluter pays principal, but less than a quarter felt they knew enough about the Welsh Government's policy on the environment.

A spokesperson said: "There is a responsibility for businesses to source recyclable packaging, but this needs to go hand in hand with a public communications campaign reminding both businesses and individuals of their responsibilities.

"The details of any new 'polluter pays' rules will need to be considered in consultation with small businesses, who will want to support this initiative but may struggle to comply if the system is not co-produced.

"While we know Welsh Government's intention on this policy, as yet, we have no detail on how the scheme will work.

"Any implementation of this policy will need to be clear, detailed and proportionate, making it easy for small businesses to do the right thing."

The Welsh Government wants Wales to become a 'zero waste nation' by 2050. Credit: PA Images

Large coffee shops and fast food chains will also be required to have dedicated recycling bins in-store from 2024 for the collection of paper-based disposable cups.

The UK uses 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year and around half a million coffee cups are littered every day, according to a recent report by the Environmental Audit Committee.

The Welsh Government said only a small fraction of these cups - largely made from paper lined with plastic and soiled - are correctly disposed of and recycled in the UK.