MPs call for 10p plastic bottle deposit scheme

A deposit return scheme for plastic bottles should be introduced urgently to combat pollution of the world’s oceans, MPs say today.

They recommend a refundable charge of 10p to 20p on top of the price of a drink to ensure a high rate of bottle returns.

A report by the Commons environmental audit committee said recycling rates could increase to 90 per cent if the scheme was introduced.

A 10 or 20p deposit return scheme will encourage consumers to return plastic bottles they have bought

It reveals that while 57 per cent of used plastic bottles are recycled in household waste, this has not improved since 2012, largely as a result of EU rules.

A European directive from 2011 says waste should be measured by weight rather than volume for recycling targets.

The MPs conclude that this ‘creates a disincentive for local authorities to focus resources on the collection of plastic bottles’, which have a significant impact in terms of volume despite their light weight. Today’s report comes after the Daily Mail’s Turn The Tide On Plastic campaign for a deposit scheme to prevent plastic bottles destroying the oceans.

Labour MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the committee, said: ‘Around 700,000 plastic bottles are littered in the UK every day.

‘The introduction of a small charge to encourage the return of plastic bottles will result in less littering, more recycling and reduction in the impact of plastic packaging on our natural environment

‘Urgent action is needed to protect our environment from the devastating effects of marine plastic pollution, which, if it continues to rise at current rates, will outweigh fish by 2050.’

The committee suggested the deposit scheme could also be extended to other items such as aluminium cans.

Some 40 countries around the world have plastic bottle deposit return schemes, and nearly three-quarters of Britons favour the introduction of one here, according to a YouGov poll. A charge on plastic carrier bags was introduced after an earlier campaign by the Mail and has cut their usage by more than 85 per cent.

The House of Commons report recommended that a 10 or 20p refundable charge be put on plastic water bottles to make people return them 

The House of Commons report recommended that a 10 or 20p refundable charge be put on plastic water bottles to make people return them 

Other recommendations in the committee’s disposable packaging inquiry report include requiring every restaurant, cafe, bar, gym and leisure centre to offer free tap water.

The MPs also call for more drinking water fountains to eliminate the need for people to buy bottled water. They say all plastic bottles should be made of at least 50 per cent recycled plastic, and called for manufacturers to do more.

Plastic bottle producers pay only 10 per cent of the cost of disposal or recycling of their products. This means taxpayers are liable for 90 per cent of the cost of processing their waste – £800million last year.

The MPs revealed that plastic bottles make up a third of all plastic pollution in the sea. Of the 13billion used each year, only 7.5billion are recycled.

The report praised recent media coverage for bringing the issue to the ‘forefront of public awareness’.

However, the British Plastics Federation questioned the committee’s findings, saying the recycling figures used were ‘potentially misleading’.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said an independent working group looking into deposit schemes would report to ministers early next year.