An influential committee of the United Kingdom's Parliament says the country needs a nationwide plastic bottle deposit program to reduce plastic pollution.
The U.K. Parliament Environmental Audit Committee issued a report Dec. 22 calling for a nationwide deposit, along with an increase in the number of public water fountains. The committee also called for making producers responsible for the plastic packaging they produce.
In addition, the committee urged the government to phase in a mandated 50 percent recycled plastic content in plastic bottles, to be achieved by 2023 at the latest.
“Urgent action is needed to protect our environment from the devastating effects of marine plastic pollution which, if it continues to rise at current rates, will outweigh fish by 2050,” said Mary Creagh, a member of Parliament and chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee.
According to Creagh, the U.K. uses 13 billion plastic bottles each year, around half of which are not recycled.
“We need action at individual, council, regional and national levels to turn back the plastic tide,” she added.
The MP pointed that around 700,000 plastic bottles are littered in the U.K. every day, adding: “the introduction of a small charge to encourage the return of plastic bottles will result in less littering, more recycling and reduction in the impact of plastic packaging on our natural environment.”
Additionally, the committee urged the government to introduce a requirement for all public premises at which food or drink is served, to provide free drinking water on request, including at sports and recreation centers.
“It is unacceptable that there is no legal obligation for unlicensed cafes, restaurants and sports centers to provide free drinking water on request,” the MP said.
The U.K., she went on to say, has safe, clean tap water and failing to provide it leads to unnecessary use of plastic water bottles which clog waterways.
Additionally, the committee pointed out that packaging producers only pay for 10 percent of the cost of packaging disposal and recycling, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for the remaining 90 percent.
The committee called on the government to adopt a producer responsibility compliance fee structure that rewarded design for recyclability and raises charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle.