The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published new data on the types and sizes of drinks containers littered in England, to help influence the design of England’s deposit return system.
Throughout September, the organisation held 35 litter picks across England as part of its nationwide ‘Green Clean’ initiative. As well as helping communities clean up their local green spaces, CPRE wanted to highlight the astonishing variety of cans and bottles discarded across our countryside, towns and cities.
In total the litter pick collected 11,212 drinks containers of all materials and sizes. However, CPRRE said that the imminent introduction of a deposit return system is set to spark a recycling revolution
From the 11,212 drinks containers collected, the data showed:
- Over a third (35%) of the drinks containers littered are plastic, 50% aluminium, 14% glass and 1% Tetra Pak type packaging
- Of the plastics:
- 10% were small bottles (below 500ml)
- 71% were medium sized (500ml – average water bottle)
- 10% were large (501ml-1.5l)
- 9% were considered extra-large (more than 1.5l)
- Of the cans:
- 18% were small (below 330ml – small energy drink)
- 29% were medium sized (330ml – average fizzy drink can)
- 53% were large (more than 330ml – average beer can)
- Of the glass bottles:
- 25% were small (under 330ml – stubby and regular beer bottle)
- 42% were medium sized (400-750ml – larger beer bottle)
- 33% were large (more than 750 ml – wine bottles and large spirits bottles)
According to the campaign the data demonstrates that there is no limit to the types and sizes of cans and bottles that are causing harm to our wildlife and natural world, and therefore England’s deposit system must be set up to include every single type of container.
The organisation added that the data resulting from the Green Clean events will help the government as it designs England’s ‘deposit return system’, which – if properly set up to collect every drinks can and bottle – will provide a simple solution to recycling confusion and boost recycling rates for drinks container waste to more than 90%.
While plastic packaging has been making the headlines, CPRE noted that two-thirds of all drinks containers littered are made from other materials – such as aluminium and glass – and should be taken just as seriously.
Of the plastics: 10% were small bottles (below 500ml), 71% were medium sized (500ml – average water bottle), 10% were large (501ml-1.5l), and 9% were considered extra-large (more than 1.5l).
Of the cans: 18% were small (below 330ml – small energy drink), 29% were medium sized (330ml – average fizzy drink can), and 53% were large (more than 330ml – average beer can).
Of the glass bottles: 25% were small (under 330ml – stubby and regular beer bottle), 42% were medium sized (400-750ml – larger beer bottle), and 33% were large (more than 750 ml – wine bottles and large spirits bottles).
Samantha Harding, Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, commetned:
“By introducing a simple deposit system the Government has a golden opportunity to end growing scepticism around current recycling methods, collect and recycle more materials than ever right here in the UK, and ensure that those who produce the packaging rightly pay the full cost of recovering the materials that they produce. But it will only work if it is universal in the types of cans and bottles it accepts.
“Deposit return infrastructure is the same for large plastic bottles as it would be for small plastic bottles, cans and glass – failing to set the system up to collect all that it can, will set the system up to fail. The Government is committed to tackling waste and boosting recycling and with this solution it has the chance to get things right.
“In recent times, there has been a noticeable shift in consumer behaviour and attitudes – people genuinely want to take responsibility for the amount of packaging used. We all want recycling to work, but our data clearly shows that current collection methods are failing.’
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