© Natasha Ewins

MCS gives evidence to Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into single-use drinks cups and bottles

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 24 October 2017

The Environmental Audit Committee has relaunched its predecessor’s inquiry into disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles. The general election was called before the previous Committee could complete its inquiry.

© Richard Harrington

DRS is when you pay a small deposit on every drinks container you buy. When you return the drinks container to the retailer or collection point - you get your money back in full. Such systems can reduce littering, increase high quality recycling, and reduce costs for local authorities. Like the carrier bag charge, it’s a simple idea that can have an immediate effect

Dr Sue Kinsey,
Senior Pollution Policy Officer

MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, Dr Sue Kinsey, is giving evidence based on data from successive years of MCS ‘Beachwatch’ beach cleans and surveys which have shown increasingly high levels of drinks related litter on UK beaches.

MCS recently commissioned a YouGov poll which revealed 73% of the British public, questioned supported the introduction of deposit return systems (DRS) across the UK for single-use drinks bottles (plastic and glass) and cans. That’s almost 3 out of 4 people, with most support coming from those aged over 45 years.

MCS has been collecting data on the number of drinks bottles and cans found on UK beaches for almost 25 years as part of its Beachwatch programme. In the last 5 years, a total of 35,600 bottles were recorded in the UK and over 8,000 plastic bottles were found on UK beaches during just one weekend in 2015.

Between 2014 and 2015 there was a big percentage rise in most drinks containers - plastic drinks bottles increased by over 43%, metal drinks cans by almost 29%, and drinks container caps and lids were up by over 41%. Only glass bottles went down and that was only by less than 1%.

Evidence from other countries such as the US, Norway and Germany shows that the introduction of deposit schemes could raise collection rates above 90% and reduce litter.

MCS hopes that the evidence given at these latest hearings. combined with information gathered from the latest Defra consultation, will put forward the case for DRS in England.

Read the report on this website.

Actions you can take

  1. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  2. Survey showing public support
  3. Join the Plastic Challenge
  4. See our map of reported bottle sightings
  5. Take your own reusable bottle out and about
  6. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form

Did you know?…

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces