London’s plastic water bottle waste out of control

17th April 2017 | Recycling

The amount of waste from a single-use plastic bottles in London has risen out of control. This is according to a report from the London assembly environment committee.

It calls on the mayor to consider introducing a deposit return scheme and to provide free tap water as an alternative. The report finds that the London population consumes more plastic bottled water than anywhere else in England. This is 7.7bn a year, with the worst recycling rate in the UK – 32% compared with a national average of 43%.

Plastic bottles make up 10% of all litter found in the Thames. A separate study found three-quarters of the flounder swimming in the river had ingested plastic. Plastic bottles take 450 years to break down.

Plastic Water Bottles

The report urges the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to address the specific issue of plastic water bottle waste in his upcoming environment strategy. It recommends that he examines the feasibility and practicalities of a bottle deposit return scheme, which the government could later roll out nationwide. Such a scheme would offer an incentive to return plastic bottles by adding a reclaimable amount to the price of bottled drinks.

To reduce Londoners’ thirst for bottled water, tap water should be more readily available from community refill facilities and mainline rail and underground stations as well as bus stops.
Hydrachill water refilling stations have been trialled at Hammersmith bus station in west London and a number piers along the Thames. These have proven popular with both commuters and staff. Apps could also be promoted to help consumers locate businesses willing to provide free water refills.

“Plastic waste is out of control in London,” said Leonie Cooper, who chairs the environment committee. “It litters our parks, pollutes the Thames, harms marine life and adds waste to London’s landfill sites, which may be full by 2025.”

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