Khan Urged To Explore Deposit Schemes For Plastic Bottles

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, should explore the potential of a deposit return scheme (DRS) for plastic bottles in London, a London Assembly committee has urged.

Londoners consume more plastic bottled water per person than anywhere else in England, according to the London Assembly Environment Committee. It has some of the worst recycling rates in the UK, it says, and plastic bottles make up 10% of all litter found in the Thames.

The London Assembly Environment Committee report, Bottled Water examines the environmental impacts of plastic water bottles and makes recommendations to reduce the effects.

“Plastic waste is out of control in London. It litters our parks, pollutes the Thames, harms marine life, and adds waste to London’s landfill sites, which may be full by 2025″

The report points to Germany, where DRS machines are located in places such as supermarkets. It says as a result 99% of plastic bottles are recycled.

It recommends the Mayor should explore the feasibility of a DRS in London, with a view to trialling a nation-wide scheme. It says a DRS would offer an incentive for Londoners to return plastic bottles by adding a reclaimable amount to the price of bottled drinks.

Among its findings, the Committee says the Mayor should also:

  • encourage community water refill schemes in which Londoners can fill up water bottles for free at participating venues
  • install more water refilling stations across the London transport network
  • promote apps to help consumers locate businesses willing to provide free water refills.

The Mayor must also address plastic water bottle waste specifically in his upcoming Environment Strategy, it says.

Environment Committee Chair, Leonie Cooper AM, said: “Plastic waste is out of control in London. It litters our parks, pollutes the Thames, harms marine life, and adds waste to London’s landfill sites, which may be full by 2025.

“We have to turn the situation around. Firstly, Londoners need an alternative to buying bottles of water – this is a crucial part of the solution. Tap water needs to be more readily available. Secondly, we need to improve our recycling of plastic bottles. Currently, far too many end up in landfill or in the natural environment and London boroughs have some of the worst recycling rates in the whole of the UK.

“Electors heard Sadiq Khan pledge to be the ‘greenest Mayor London has ever had’, now it’s time to fulfil that promise by addressing our thirst for plastic bottled water.”

Deposit Return Schemes

The report comes just days after the Government published its National Litter Strategy for England, in which Government said it would look at the feasibility of different types of deposit return schemes for drinks containers.

Just yesterday, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) made its opposition to DRS schemes known, after responding to the Environmental Audit Committee’s consultation on disposable packaging.

In its submission, LARAC said: “LARAC would not want to see deposits introduced for plastic bottles that removed them from the council collection schemes. This would have the effect of making the council schemes less efficient and require a new set of collection infrastructure to be introduced. LARAC believes that the UK is better served by providing more funds for the existing council kerbside collection scheme for plastic bottles.

“LARAC also reiterates the need to consider direct charging as a means to change consumer behaviour on recycling in general but in this instance to increase the number of plastic bottles required.”

In February this year, 190,000 people signed a petition to “bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans”.

The petition, started by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and hosted on 38 Degrees, stated that placing a small deposit on plastic bottles and cans would “dramatically increase recycling and reduce marine plastic pollution”.

A delegation from SAS will deliver the petition signatures to Government once it has met its goal of reaching 200,000 signatories.

Among those who signed the petition include comedian and TV personality, Rory Bremner.

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