Gov­ern­ment plan to tackle marine plas­tic

Yachting Monthly - - NEWS -

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

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