Cans for cash: How new bottle recycling scheme will see you swap rubbish for a refund

It is hoped the new way of recycling bottles and cans will mean less littering as well as less waste going to landfill. Credit: ITV Wales

How we choose to recycle our empty drinks bottles and cans is set to change under a new system.

It means that when buying a beverage in a single-use container, there will be "a small" additional fee to pay that can be refunded when the empty packaging is returned.

It is part of Welsh Government efforts to improve recycling rates and reduce litter and waste that goes to landfill.

Similar deposit return schemes are already in place in countries like Germany, Finland and Australia.

But how easy will it be to return the cans and how much extra will they cost?

Drinks containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, steel, glass, and aluminium are all included.

When will it start?

The deposit return scheme is due to launch in Wales by 2025.

How much will the additional fee be?

Although the exact amount has not been decided, the Welsh Government said it will be "a small deposit". In Scotland, where a similar scheme is set to be introduced later this year, the surcharge has been set at 20p.

The Welsh Government did add that it may not be "a flat rate" and could instead vary depending on what the item is and the size of the manufacturer.

Where will I be able to return my cans and bottles?

There will be 'reverse vending machines' placed in communities where you can return your can or bottle too. The Welsh Government said these machines should make it as easy to return the container as it was to buy it.

These machines will provide you with a receipt, which you can redeem for the deposit at a local shop.

The Welsh Government is working with England and Northern Ireland so that you can buy a drink somewhere in Wales but return it in Bristol or Belfast for example.

Will all drinks containers be included in the scheme?

Drinks containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, steel, glass, and aluminium are all included.

It is estimated the UK goes through 23 billion plastic drinks bottles and drinks cans a year, many of which are littered or go to landfill.

What happens to the extra money I have paid if I do not return the can?

Unclaimed deposits will go back into funding the scheme itself.

Cans and bottles can also still be recycled at the curbside, as they currently are.

Where has this scheme worked before?

More than ten other European countries already have a deposit return scheme in place, these include Slovakia, Denmark and Sweden.

Germany, Finland and Norway, where recycling rates are above 90%, also have their own systems in place.

Scotland is setting up its own deposit return scheme, which starts in August 2023.

A similar bottle deposit return scheme sued to operate in the UK 30 to 40 years ago.

Currently Wales is the third best country in the world for recycling and has a recycling rate of 65%. The Climate Change Minister Julie James said it is hoped this scheme will act as a "huge step change" and boost that rate even further, to 90%.

The Welsh Government believes that 85% fewer drinks containers will be discarded in Wales as litter, as a result of the deposit return incentive.

How much will this affect businesses?

Higher prices because of the additional deposit fee could mean retailers are concerned about losing customers. However the Climate Change Minister said the system will be "calibrated" so that smaller businesses pay less and will also pay "less of a registration fee".

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