We have debated deposit and return for plastic bottles a couple of times in our public meetings, and I hope that many of you feel that charging a refundable deposit on all plastic bottles would be a good idea.
To get an idea of the scale of the problem; in 2007 approximately 13 billion plastic bottles of water were sold in the UK(1). It only takes a tiny number of people to toss their empty bottles aside, rather than recycling or even putting it in a bin for landfill, to make for an enormous mountain of rubbish that is going to litter streets, our parks and the countryside around us.
Some of the rubbish dropped on land will be collected, by council workers or volunteers, but most of the plastic that ends up in the sea is going to be there for the next couple of hundred years. Here it is slowly ground up until it is small enough to eat…
A deposit scheme would reward people for returning plastic bottles for collection and recycling, and should have a positive impact on the urban landscape, and reduce significantly the numbers of bottles we find on our beaches – in 2016 the Great British Beach Clean recovered an average of 12.5 plastic bottles from every 100m of beach cleaned(2).
Over the past few years there have been a number of campaigns to increase general awareness of plastic as a litter problem. Finally, plastic bottles at least look to be a problem that we can solve, as large companies like Coca-Cola have come around to supporting a deposit scheme(3). If these large corporations think it can be made to work, there is a chance that our government can be made to listen.
You can support the Surfers Against Sewage campaign by adding your name to their petition on 38 Degrees:
Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans.
Bary Kaye (Chair, Lancashire MCS)
(1) Should we be using bottled water? Published by the Environmental Technology Centre, University of Nottingham
(2) Great British Beach Clean results 2016, Published by the MCS
(3) Coca-Cola supports Deposit Return System published by Surfers Against Sewage.