UK Supermarkets and drinks manufacturers should pay for plastic recycling, say MPs

Committee called for 'polluter pays' principle, noting that just 10%  of the estimated cost of recycling plastic packaging in the UK is covered by those who produce and sell it

UK consumers use 13 billion plastic bottles each year but only 7.5 billion are recycled
UK consumers use 13 billion plastic bottles each year but only 7.5 billion are recycled

Supermarkets and drinks makers should pay more towards the recycling of plastic packaging they sell, MPs said on Friday.

The UK should also introduce a plastic bottle deposit return scheme, members of the Environmental Audit Committee said.

“Obviously industry needs to be involved in the design of any scheme and then it has to be rolled out, but I think this is something we could see up and running in the next two to three years,” committee chair and report author Mary Creagh MP said.

“And of course it's a really important part of creating a sustainable economy and taking that plastic out of our rivers, off our streets and off our beaches.”

The committee called for a “polluter pays” principle, noting that just 10 per cent of the estimated cost of recycling plastic packaging in the UK is covered by those who produce and sell it. This is thought to be significantly lower than in many other European countries.

The Government should also bring in rules to ensure 50 per cent recycled plastic content in plastic bottles to be achieved by 2023 at the latest, they urged.

The report also called for public premises which serve food or drink, including leisure centres to be required to provide free drinking water.

UK consumers use 13 billion plastic bottles each year but only 7.5 billion are recycled, the committee’s report said.

Burning or throwing bottles into landfill produces around 233,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, while littered plastic bottles harm the countryside and wildlife and end up in the seas where they make up a third of all plastic pollution.

With the issue of ocean plastic pollution high on the agenda in the wake of the BBC's Blue Planet II and campaigns by organisations from Greenpeace to Sky, potential measures to cut plastic waste are under the spotlight.

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