Report: London mayor should address plastic bottle waste through deposit system

Dive Brief:

  • A new report from the London Assembly Environment Committee calls on Mayor Sadiq Khan to address a growing plastic bottle waste problem in the city. According to the report, Londoners drink more plastic bottled water per capita than any other region in England and have some of the lowest recycling rates, as reported by Resource.
  • The report calls for more access to refillable bottle stations in public transportation systems or commercial venues. It also called on Khan to explore some type of deposit return system, pointing to a pilot in Scotland and a successful system in Germany, as reported by Business Green.
  • ​In response to the report, Khan's office released a statement saying he will provide detailed proposals for reducing all types of waste and increasing recycling rates in an upcoming "Environment Strategy" report. Though the mayor's office believes a deposit return system may require a national approach instead.

Dive Insight:

The U.K.'s low recycling rate for plastic bottles has been gaining more attention recently and this report makes the issue more local by showing the detrimental effects of the ones that aren't recovered. According to the report, plastic bottles comprise 10% of all litter found in the River Thames and half of them were made for bottled water. This comes shortly after Greenpeace UK called out Coca-Cola for a perceived lack of progress on reducing plastic bottle waste by installing a sculpture featuring plastic-vomiting seagulls in front of their London headquarters. 

In addition to calls for a deposit system and more refilling options, the London Assembly's report goes a step further by recommending that plastic bottled water shouldn't even be sold in government buildings. Such proposals may seem aggressive but they could face a warmer reception from the newly elected Khan, who has pledged to make London "one of the world's greenest cities." A food waste reduction program and a coffee cup recycling program in the city's financial district are among some of London's newest waste-related initiatives.

More will be known about how the city plans to proceed once Khan's new strategy is released, though some factors such as the potential for a national deposit system may be out of his control during a tumultuous time for the U.K. As the European Union continues working toward the adoption of a Circular Economy Package it is unknown what type of recycling regulations the U.K. will choose to enact after Brexit or what those trade implications will mean for the industry

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Filed Under: Recycling Waste Diversion