Government plan to tackle marine plastic
The UK government could introduce a deposit return scheme in a bid to tackle plastic pollution in our seas. The scheme was unveiled shortly before the government also outlined its aim of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
Over 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year according to the World Economic Forum, and UNESCO estimates that plastic debris kills one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year.
The UK bottle deposit scheme is part of a number of measures recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee, which has also asked MPS to consider making drinks companies and supermarkets pay more towards the cost of recycling plastic packaging. Currently, firms contribute 10% of the cost, while the taxpayer pays for 90%.
The committee would also like to see a mandated 50% recycled plastic content in plastic bottles by 2023, more public water fountains, and free drinking water in all public premises that serve food and drink to try and encourage the use of reusable containers. It has also called for a proposed 25p tax on disposable coffee cups. It is estimated that around 13 billion plastic bottles are used each year in the UK but only half are recycled. It is hoped a deposit return scheme would increase this rate to 90%.
Coca-cola Great Britain said it had previously announced its commitment to double the amount of recycled plastic in its bottles to 50% by 2020, and the firm welcomed the reform of litter recovery systems in the UK.
The Marine Conservation Society said plastic drinks bottles, along with caps, lids and other plastic drink and food waste items, consistently feature in the top 10 of litter types on UK beaches.
Head of clean seas at the MCS, Dr Laura Foster, said, ‘A deposit return system, coupled with increasing access to free drinking water, and an effective system to discourage waste, would reduce this growing plastic tide’.
The Scottish government announced a deposit return scheme last year