Bottle deposit scheme must be introduced to turn back the plastic tide

first_imgPlastic waste now accounts for 20 per cent of beach rubbish A plastic bottle deposit scheme must be introduced despite objections from newsagents and corner shops, MPs have said.The Environmental Audit Committee said that up to 20p should be placed on the cost of plastic bottled drinks, which would be returned when customers brought back their waste.In a new report, the committee warned that only 7.5 billion of the 13 billion plastic bottles used in the UK each year are recycled, while the rest end up in landfill, are littered or incinerated.But MPs said that a return scheme could boost recycling rates to 90 per cent.However shopkeepers said they were concerned that bulky deposit machines would take up retail space and that returned bottles may be unhygienic. The report was welcomed by conservationists and charities. Plastic drinks bottles, along with caps, lids and other plastic on-the-go drink and food waste items, consistently feature in the top ten of litter types strewn on UK beaches, and account for up to 20 per cent of all rubbish found in Marine Conservation Society beach cleans and surveys.Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society, says “We wholeheartedly support the findings of the Committee. UK consumers use 13 billion plastic bottles each year.“These are generally used just once and thrown away – a deposit return system, coupled with increasing access to free drinking water, and an effective system to discourage waste and encourage good packaging designs, would reduce this growing plastic tide.” Will McCallum, Head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK, added: “The EAC have understood that plastic pollution is a crisis which could be about to get quite a lot worse, and that we’re going to need to do a bit more than just build a couple more recycling plants to get out of the whole we’ve dug ourselves.“It’s brilliant to see their recommendation for a Deposit Return Scheme as the immediate response to the flood of plastic bottles, and extending that thinking to other recommendations focused on reduction and moving the burden of paying for plastic waste from the taxpayer to the manufacturer.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) calculated that the average small store would need to deal with 180 drinks containers each day, and lose £62,000 in lost floor space.James Lowman, of the ACS said: “In our sector there would be significant costs to our small stores in terms of the proportion of space taken up by a reverse vending solution and manual returns.“Every member I speak to says the idea of taking back dirty containers over a counter where you are selling food is just not feasible.” Plastic waste is increasingly finding its way into nature Credit:Kajsa Sjšlander/Greenpeace center_img Plastic waste is increasingly finding its way into nature  However committee members said the rising tide of plastic waste was a major concern which must be tackled.  Most Britons will use 150 plastic water bottles each year, while Londoners get through 175 bottles and some 700,000 bottles are littered each day in the UK.As well as a deposit return scheme, MPs are also calling for all public premises which serve food or drink including leisure and sports centres should be required to provide free drinking water on request, and public water fountains should be more widespread. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “Urgent action is needed to protect our environment from the devastating effects of marine plastic pollution which, if it continues to rise at current rates, will outweigh fish by 2050.“Our throwaway society uses 13 billion plastic bottles each year, around half of which are not recycled. Plastic bottles make up a third of all plastic pollution in the sea, and are a growing litter problem on UK beaches.  “We need action at individual, council, regional and national levels to turn back the plastic tide.”The Scottish government has already announced plans to introduce a deposit return scheme and Department of Environment is currently consulting on a similar UK-wide project. Plastic waste now accounts for 20 per cent of beach rubbishCredit:Surfers Against Sewage  In the new report, MPs also called for companies to be made financially responsible for the plastic packaging they produce.Producers currently only pay for 10 per cent of the cost of packaging disposal and recycling, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for the other 90 per cent, evidence submitted to the MPs showed.The Government should also bring in rules for 50 per cent recycled plastic content in plastic bottles to be achieved by 2023 at the latest, they urged.last_img read more