Grey seal chewing glass bottle strengthens need for 'all-in' Deposit Return Scheme
Nature photographer Dan Thurling has captured upsetting images of a grey seal pup chewing on a glass Starbucks bottle. The pictures were taken in Donna Nook nature reserve in Lincolnshire, the area is home to one of the UK’s largest breeding colonies of grey seals.
We want an all-inclusive, robust, Deposit Return Scheme, similar to other European countries. There are over 40 countries with these systems in place.Matt Barnes,
Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager
Matt Barnes, Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager at MCS said:
“The seal pup in question looked like it was less than 21 days old. It wouldn’t have been fully weaned so it would be dependent on the mother. They are very inquisitive and so when investigating things on the shoreline it is very easy for them to get entangled or to ingest marine litter.”
Last week we revealed the data from our 2019 Great British Beach Clean – this illustrated an urgent need for an all-inclusive Deposit Return Scheme, and these images do a good job at reinforcing our position.
A Deposit Return Scheme would encourage people to return their drinks containers to a collection point by putting a small deposit on them at the point of purchase. You would get this deposit back when you return the drinks container. We want to make sure that the version of DRS that is implemented captures all drinks containers of all sizes and all materials – including, crucially, glass.
Over just one weekend of beach cleaning, our volunteers recorded over 16,000 drinks containers of varying forms and an average of four glass bottles for every 100m of beach surveyed. Whilst the potential dangers of single-use plastic bottles have been well documented, glass bottles and cans are equally as dangerous for not only marine life, but for beach visitors.
Matt said: “Legislation such as a Deposit Return Scheme will start to add a monetary value to these items. We want an all-inclusive, robust, Deposit Return Scheme, similar to other European countries. There are over 40 countries with these systems in place.”
“Our data supported the carrier bag charge and we’ve seen a 50% reduction in carrier bags found on beaches from that 5p levy. If we were to have a small charge on drinks containers it would have a profound effect on marine litter levels in the UK.”
“We need to learn to live in balance with the environment – everything you purchase, everything you eat, everything you do is intrinsically linked to the ocean.”
Our campaign earlier in the year, Bottles for Change, gathered more than 25,000 signatures in favour of an all-inclusive system. We hope that the government takes note of the large public support there is for an all-inclusive DRS and the risks that could come from excluding glass from the scheme.
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Did you know?…
Over 1,000 marine wildlife sightings were reported to MCS last year