Michael Gove urged not to 'lose his bottle' on recycling scheme

By agency reporter
February 26, 2019

Campaigners have warned that more than 6 billion plastic bottles per year could be littered, landfilled or incinerated if the government gives in to industry pressure and weakens plans to introduce 'reverse vending machines' to boost recycling rates.

On 25 February 2019 Greenpeace delivered a 29ft-long plastic bottle artwork to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to urge him "not to lose his bottle" in the face of corporate lobbying, and to press on with an all-inclusive deposit return scheme. Artist Lulu Quinn built the installation using over 2,500 plastic bottles collected by volunteers from the UK’s streets, beaches and river banks.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [Defra], has launched a consultation on whether to introduce a scheme whereby a 15p levy could be added to the price of bottles and cans which would be returned once they had been recycled.

In the UK, recycling collection rates for plastic bottles have stalled at around 59 per cent in recent years, and it is hoped that introducing a scheme like this could boost rates above 95 per cent, as is seen in countries which already have bottle return schemes. But industry giants are lobbying for the scheme to exclude all bottles bigger than 750ml, as well as all milk bottles made from HDPE plastics

According to 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 £9.4 billion in its first ten years, whereas the benefit of a limited scheme would be just £3 billion over the same period.

Sam Chetan-Welsh, Greenpeace UK political adviser, said: “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.”

* Greenpeace UK https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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