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MCS urges supermarkets to back DRS

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Retailers urged not to make excuses to avoid ‘all-in’ Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles and cans in Wales 

Marine Conservation Society warns that falling short of an “all-in” system for Wales will harm our oceans.

The UK’s leading marine charity, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), has written an open letter to CEO’s of ten leading supermarkets urging them to support a comprehensive ‘all in’ Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks bottles and cans by responding to a Defra consultation on the issue.

This consultation is being undertaken jointly by the Welsh and UK Governments.

Wales is the world’s third-best recycling nation, but, says Gill Bell, MCS Head of Conservation in Wales, the country needs to move away from being a throwaway society to a circular economy: “We believe putting a value on items like glass and plastic bottles and cans will lead to behaviour change. We need a deposit return scheme in Wales which will increase recycling rates, reduce beach litter and help meet our well-being goal of being a globally responsible Wales.

People in Wales are being urged to take part in the consultation which runs until May 13th.

MCS says businesses must back the introduction of a money-back recycling system for consumers that includes all sizes and materials of containers, that is run as a not-for-profit system and is consistent across all parts of the United Kingdom.

Some sections of industry have suggested introducing an “on the go” scheme, which would only include the smallest bottles and containers. In other countries, where this has been tried, retailers and manufacturers simply switched sizes or material to get around the rules.

In her letter, the charity’s CEO, Sandy Luk, says some companies seem intent on changing or delaying the introduction of a comprehensive scheme: “It is highly regrettable that some elements in UK industry, with vested interests, seem intent on making up as many excuses as possible to resist a scheme which will remove and recycle the largest numbers of containers. Lobbying behind the scenes must not be allowed to derail the most ambitious and comprehensive scheme from being introduced.

The charity says anything less than an ‘all-in’ system will fail to produce the environmental outcomes we need to see, which is less litter and plastic poisoning marine wildlife and polluting our waterways, seas and oceans.

Deposit return schemes are already working well elsewhere. The UK currently recycles just 57% of drinks containers, whilst neighbouring European countries with systems already in place typically have recycling rates over 90%.

Sandy Luk told the CEO’s of the UK’s leading supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons, Lidl, Co-op, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Iceland – that: “Delaying the introduction of a comprehensive scheme will place more of a stranglehold on the environment, and effectively sentence of our marine wildlife to an early death. Businesses must not shirk their responsibilities to their customers by propagating the plastic tide for their own benefit. Shoppers will never forgive business for doing so.”

MCS has launched its #BottlesforChange campaign to encourage the public to take part in the consultation which is backed by BBC2’s Dragon’s Den star and MCS Ocean Ambassador, Deborah Meaden, who says: “Over 20 billion bottles and cans end up buried, burned or in the environment each year in the UK – this has to end. I’m supporting the #BottlesForChange campaign and urge businesses and industry to act now – to support a money-back recycling scheme for drinks cans and bottles of all sizes and materials throughout the UK. There are so many benefits this would bring to businesses large and small – increased footfall, reduction in litter and increased revenue are just a few. Let’s get behind the Marine Conservation Society’s vision for an all-in deposit return scheme.”

Defra’s DRS consultation covers Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Scotland has already held a consultation and the indications are that the Scottish Government is likely to take the environmentally ambitious option of a comprehensive system.

The Welsh Government says it will consider the responses and undertake further impact assessment work, before deciding on whether and how to implement a DRS in Wales.

The Marine Conservation Society is urging members of the public to take part in the UK Government’s consultation before it closes on May 13th, via a pre-filled form on their BottlesforChange.uk website – it takes just two minutes.

Gill Bell added: ‘We need Welsh Government to be bold and support an ‘all-in’ approach. Concerns have been raised about local authorities losing the money they generate from kerbside collection if a DRS scheme was set up in Wales. Not only has this been proven not to be the case in other countries but it cannot be justified as a reason not to adopt an all-inclusive system. There will be so many other benefits, including less littering, which of course reduces the number of bottles reaching our oceans but also cuts down on street cleaning costs.”

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society visit their website by clicking here.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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