Greenpeace has delivered a 29ft long plastic bottle artwork to Environment Secretary Michael Gove as they urged him not to lose cave in to lobbyists over the planned bottle deposit return scheme (DRS).
The proposed scheme would see a 15p levy could be added to the price of bottles and cans which would be returned once they’d been recycled.
The campaigners warned that more than 6bn plastic bottles per year could be littered, landfilled or incinerated if the government caves in to industry pressure and weakens plans to introduce ‘reverse vending machines’ to boost recycling rates.
As such they called on Gove to hold his nerve and not lose his bottle over the all-inclusive plans, for which the government is currently holding a consultation.
To emphasise its point, Greenpeace delivered the 29ft long plastic bottle artwork by Artist Lulu Quinn who built the installation using over 2500 plastic bottles collected by volunteers from the UK’s streets, beaches and river banks.
The environmental group also noted that in the UK, recycling collection rates for plastic bottles have stalled at around 59% in recent years, and it is hoped that introducing a scheme like this could boost rates above 95%, as is seen in countries that already have bottle return schemes.
However, according to Greenpeace, industry giants are lobbying for the scheme to exclude all bottles bigger than 750ml, as well as all milk bottles made from HDPE plastics be exempt.
The organisation highlighted the government’s own consultation document, this would result in at least 6 billion bottles per year being left out.
The government also estimates that an all-in scheme would have an economic benefit of £9.4bn in its first ten years, whereas the benefit of a limited scheme would be just £3bn over the same period.
Sam Chetan-Welsh, Greenpeace UK political adviser, commented:
“We are delivering this 29ft artwork to Michael Gove urging him not to lose his bottle. A watered down scheme would confuse customers and allow billions of bottles to pollute the environment, and it would also be less valuable to our economy.
“The Environment Secretary must hold his nerve in the face of industry lobbying and introduce an all-in deposit return scheme, covering all sizes and materials, which actually does what it sets out to do.”
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