Are you horrified by the amount of plastic that gets thrown into our environment? If so, do come along to the High Street this Friday (28 June) outside M&S to try out a “reverse-vending” bottle deposit machine, which could slash the amount of plastic waste ending up on motorway verges, in landfill, and in our rivers.
I’ve teamed up with the Marine Conservation Society to bring the first ever such machine to Cheltenham, as part of my campaign for the UK to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme.
The scheme works by providing a financial reward for every bottle that is deposited. Versions are already up and running in other countries like Norway, where 95% of all plastic bottles are now recycled. Yet here in the UK, where British consumers go through an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, around 700,000 of them end up in our environment every day, the equivalent of over 1,000 from Cheltenham. That’s obscene.
We’re fighting back as a nation. Plastic microbeads have already been banned. Plastic bag numbers have been slashed by over 80%, and from next year plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be off-limits.
We need to go further. By 2022 I want to see taxes imposed on packaging with less than 30% recycled content, and plastic producers should be required to pay the full cost of disposal – not just 10% as at present. Equally, I’m calling for the Government to incentivise plastic-free aisles in shops of the type that M&S, Tesco and Morrisons are starting to trial.
Getting the detail right of a bottle deposit scheme is vital. All the implications need to be thought through with care. But I think this is an idea whose time has come.
Come and join the campaign, and take a glimpse into what could be a low-plastic future.