The Green Alliance has backed deposit return schemes (DRS) as the single most effective action to cut the number of plastic bottles getting into the seas and oceans.
The non-aligned thinktank has published analysis which indicates that one-third of plastic litter comes from bottles. This is likely to escalate as global bottle production is forecast to jump by 20% by 2021, according to market researcher Euromonitor.
The group quotes a DRS in Germany where nearly 100% of plastics bottles are returned for recycling, and it argues that such schemes also provide access to more high-quality plastics for recycling.
A DRS is under consideration in Scotland and received the backing of Coca-Cola GB, which said customer research indicated support for such schemes.
As well as DRS, four other actions are backed to reduce the UK’s contribution to plastic in the sea:
- Enforce Operation Clean Sweep to cut pollution from plastic pellets or ‘nurdles’ used as raw material in industrial processes (9% of plastic pollution)
- Enforce existing maritime waste dumping bans (11%)
- Upgrade wastewater treatment plants with sand filters to retain the microplastic fibres shed from synthetic clothes when they are washed (9%)
- Expand the UK’s ban on microbeads to all products, not just rinse-off products (1%)
Dustin Benton, acting policy director for Green Alliance, said: “The popularity of the microbeads ban and plastic bag charge shows the public is up for tackling these problems.
“The Government should listen, introduce a bottle deposit scheme and enforce rules on sources of industrial waste. These simple steps would address two-thirds of the UK’s marine plastic problem.”