Combat plastic pollution from single-use water bottles on World Water Day

Environmental organisations Friends of the Earth and City to Sea have teamed up to mark today’s World Water Day (March 22) and are urging politicians, companies and the public to reduce plastic pollution caused by the billions of single-use plastic water bottles used in the UK every year.

plastic water bottlesIt is estimated that around 16 million plastic bottles are not recycled in the UK each day, which means they will end up in landfill, incinerators or as pollution in the natural environment instead.

To reduce the impact of plastic water bottles, Friends of the Earth and City to Sea have released advice aimed at different audiences to help combat plastic pollution.

Consumers and businesses are being asked to reuse bottles through refilling, as City to Sea estimates that if 1 in 10 Brits refilled a bottle once a week, around 340 million plastic bottles would be saved.

Local authorities, transport hubs and businesses are being advised to play their part in the movement towards reuse and refill by increasing the availability of drinking water fountains and water refill locations.

Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner Camila Zerr said: “The UK has top quality drinking water available from the tap. By saying no to bottled water and refilling from a tap or water fountain, we can all help stem the tide of plastic pollution – and save money.

“Reuse and refill should be part of plans to build back greener after the pandemic. Businesses, councils and the government must do more to ensure people have free and easy access to water.”

The government is being urged to implement a comprehensive Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) that includes all sizes of plastic bottles.

MPs began an inquiry into the introduction of a DRS across England and Wales in February, which is due to be implemented in 2023.

It is not yet known how comprehensive the service will be, although Friends of the Earth and City to Sea are calling for the introduction of an ‘all in’ scheme, which would include the recycling of all plastic drinks containers, as well as glass bottles, aluminium cans and cartons.

Last April, a poll conducted by Populus found that 84 per cent of the British public support the implementation of an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme.

There are also calls for the government to include legally-binding targets to reduce plastic pollution in its Environmental Bill, which was delayed for the third time earlier this year.

Upon releasing the advice, Friends of the Earth and City to Sea have called for everyone to act urgently towards reducing plastic pollution in ways that are available to them.

Steve Hynd, City to Sea’s Policy Manager, added:  “Single-use plastic water bottles now make up over half of all plastic bottle sales in the UK. The plastic pollution that this causes can be seen on our riverbanks and on our beaches for all to see.

“Although there are measures in the pipeline that will start to address this, like the long-promised deposit return scheme, we are today urging government, businesses and consumers to step up and do what they can immediately.

“Change is happening, in law and in consumer behaviour, but we need everyone to be pushing for more to happen faster.”