"Don’t be a tosser" Minister tells litter louts as MPs call for drink deposit scheme

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 8 March 2018

Environment Minister Therese Coffey told litter louts “Don’t be a tosser” as MPs called for the introduction of a deposit return scheme to reduce waste.

Plastic bottles
© Patrick Joel / Marine Conservation Society

If the Minister believes we should have a deposit return system that works for the country, why has the Government not yet committed to working with the Scottish Government to ensure an efficient UK-wide system?

Dr Chris Tuckett,
MCS Head of Programmes

Ms Coffey drew laughs with the tongue-in-cheek remark, telling MPs that “it doesn’t help society by just dropping litter everywhere”.

Her comments came during Environment questions as MPs made fresh calls for a scheme to increase the recycling rate of plastic bottles.

Labour MP Jeff Smith (Manchester Withington) said: “We know that 15 million plastic bottles a day are not recycled in this country. We also know that a return scheme can increase recycling rates.

“Can I urge the Government to introduce a scheme that applies to all drinks containers, from all sizes from all sale locations and not just the on the go from kiosks and vending machines?”

Ms Coffey said: “We need to consider this approach carefully. I think that there is an appetite to have such a DRS but the schemes that we’ve seen in other parts of Europe are very different and we need to make sure that we have one that works for this country and achieve the outcomes that we all seek.”

Dr Chris Tuckett, Head of Programmes from the Marine Conservation Society, said: “If the Minister believes we should have a deposit return system that works for the country, why has the Government not yet committed to working with the Scottish Government to ensure an efficient UK-wide system?

“We were delighted when the Scottish Government announced their commitment to deposit return in September but its not just Scotland’s beaches that are blighted by bottles, we need deposit return systems working seamlessly across the UK as soon as possible to help stop the plastic tide.”

Labour MP Liz Twist (Blaydon) made a similar call and told the Government to end “this plague of plastic”.

Ms Coffey responded: “Let’s be clear, the people who drop litter are litter louts and I reiterate my phrase ‘Don’t be a tosser’ because it doesn’t help society by just dropping litter everywhere and anywhere.”

Actions you can take

  1. See our map of reported bottle sightings
  2. Help us stop the plastic tide
  3. Survey showing public support
  4. Take your own reusable bottle out and about
  5. Join the Plastic Challenge
  6. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  7. Report your #wildbottlesighting using our form
  8. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017

Did you know?…

On UK beaches levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years

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

Globally, plastic litter has reached every part of the world’s oceans