“We must protect our oceans and marine life from plastic waste if we are to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it”
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Britain will work with industry to launch a deposit-return scheme for plastic bottles in a bid to clamp down on the huge waste that litters the land and sea every year, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said on Monday.
The government says Britain recycled only 57 percent of the bottles that were sold in 2016, well behind the rates achieved in Denmark and South Australia where a deposit-return scheme boosted rates to 90 percent and 80 percent respectively.
“We must protect our oceans and marine life from plastic waste if we are to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it,” Gove told the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference.
“That means tackling the rise in plastic bottles entering our waters by making it simpler and easier to recycle and dispose of them appropriately.”
Gove said more than eight million tonnes of plastic were dumped into the world’s oceans each year, with up to 80 percent estimated to have been washed out to sea from the land.
Gove said he would consult with industry to find the advantages and disadvantages of different types of reward and return schemes for plastic, metal and glass drinks containers.
If implemented, it would follow Britain’s decision to charge 5 pence for each plastic bag in 2015 that has slashed usage, and it follows a pledge by the Scottish government to look at introducing its own plastics deposit-return scheme.
A leading Brexit campaigner, Gove also used the Conference speech to argue that Britain’s farming industry would be revolutionized by its departure from the Common Agricultural Policy, saying the government would direct its resources to projects that improve the environment and productivity.
“The opportunities to show leadership in respect for animal life, in restoring health to our oceans and in farming sustainably, are now all the greater because we’ve decided to be outside the European Union,” he said.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)