Catholic environmentalists have welcomed Government plans for a deposit return scheme to cut plastic bottle waste.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that ministers will introduce a deposit return scheme for single use drinks containers such as plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans in England, subject to consultation.
Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, has warmly welcomed the move, which aims to boost recycling rates and cut litter. It comes amid increasing concern over the issue of single use plastic waste, much of which ends up as rubbish polluting the countryside and oceans.
“This proposed landmark scheme is a victory for environmental campaigners, including Church Justice, Peace and Ecology activists involved in Caring for God’s Creation,” Mrs Teague told The Universe.
She pointed out that there had been much campaigning following Blue Planet II’s expose of plastic waste in the oceans but, despite this, many members of the public still “need to be forced to be more responsible”.
“When I worked in northern Nigeria in the 1980s it was normal to collect used drinks bottles. New supplies could only be bought when these were exchanged, and this included the local Star Beer! Enlightened policy making can make a huge difference to the amount of waste going into our environment in the future,” said Mrs Teague.
Columban missionaries were surprised to find themselves agreeing with Mr Gove that, “we need to see a change in attitudes and behaviour and the evidence shows that reward and return schemes are a powerful agent of change”.
UK consumers use an estimated 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year, but more than three billion are incinerated, sent to landfill or end up as litter in towns, the countryside and the seas, officials said.
Some countries already have deposit return schemes which charge an upfront deposit on drinks containers, ranging from 8p in Sweden to 22p in Germany, which is redeemed when the empty bottle or can is returned.
The consultation will look at how such a scheme could work in England, alongside other measures to increase recycling rates, which have stalled in recent years.
Options for a scheme could include providing cash rewards for returning bottles and cans without an upfront deposit, through ‘reverse vending machines’ where consumers insert the container and get coins in return.
Mrs Teague said it was also interesting to see glass milk bottles making a return.
“Each one can be used around 30 times, which saves plastic milk bottles ending up in our bins,” she said.
“Our Catholic parishes and schools could be inspirational in avoiding single use plastic and supporting the new scheme.”
Picture: Volunteers collect and count plastic bottles littering the foreshore of the River Thames at Queenhithe Dock in central London, in an event organised by the #OneLess campaign and Thames21 to draw attention to the impact that single-use plastic water bottles are having on the environment. (Jonathan Brady/PA).
Source : thecatholicuniverse