Ministers in both England and Scotland are considering how to address the problem of plastic bottles polluting seas and beaches.
Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, raised the issue in the House of Commons last week in a question to Therese Coffey, parliamentary under secretary for the environment and rural life opportunities.
Double said: “Following the success of the charge for plastic bags in reducing the amount of plastic going into our seas, and the welcome announcement of limiting the use of microbeads, the next big issue we need to address is single-use plastic bottles.”
He asked Dr Coffey what plans the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) had to cut the number of plastic bottles polluting seas and beaches.
Dr Coffey replied that Defra was developing a new litter strategy “which may well address this issue”.
She said environment secretary Andrea Leadsom was “personally interested in the matter” and intended to establish an innovation fund that might explore new ideas to tackle it.
The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) senior pollution policy officer Sue Kinsey said successful bottle deposit return scheme trials had been carried out at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh.
“The Scottish government is looking very closely at it and how a scheme would be best designed for Scotland.”
Westminster could look to the Scottish pilots to see if they could work more widely but the Association of Convenience Stores opposes bottle deposit return schemes.
James Lowman, its chief executive, told C-Store last year that it would place unnecessary burdens on small stores.
He said at the time that the existing kerbside recycling facilities available in the UK were sufficient.
The MCS, however, believes a bottle deposit scheme could be successful, following the successful introduction of the 5p plastic carrier bag charge which has slashed the number of them found on the UK’s beaches.