Sky have brought out an Ocean Rescue Campaign to raise awareness of single use plastics on our ocean and coastal environments.
Each year 8 million tonnes of plastic is thrown away, that’s equivalent to 37 container ships! These plastics take thousands of years to break down, they’re ingested by marine animals and move up the food chain into our sea food having detrimental effects on our health.
According to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, if we continue living by the same throw-away culture, all the plastic in the ocean could weigh more than all the fish by 2050.
Within Sky’s campaign they promote the need for a Deposit Return System, that was been effectively implemented in Norway and 34 other countries.
Under Norway’s scheme, 500ml bottles have a small deposit equivalent to 10p, that’s then refunded when consumers return their empty bottles. Any shop selling plastic bottles has to offer refunds when returned. Larger stores and supermarkets have reverse vending machines that scan bottle barcodes and give consumers vouchers for their shopping. In Norway 96% of plastic bottles are returned by consumers to then be recycled.
Simen Knudsen at Nordic Ocean Watch said “People understand they are borrowing the bottle but buying the contents”.
Zero Waste Scotland are campaigning for one of these Deposit Return Schemes and predict it would boost recycling rates to over 85%. It would also save local councils £13 million a year on bin collections.
In the UK 35.8 million plastic bottles are consumed every day. 16 million of these aren’t recycled. This figure could be halved using a deposit return scheme.
Prince Charles has shown his support of Sky’s scheme and other schemes alike saying “It’s essential that as well as the efforts of companies, consumers should play their role in lessening the burden on our environment”.”And this is why I am so hopeful about the Sky Ocean Campaign and its ability to win hearts and minds.”
Not only do these schemes reduce plastic waste getting into the ocean but reduce fossil fuels needed to make plastic, reduce plastics in landfill and save companies and local authorities money.
However, the implementation of this scheme would mean large costs for major plastic companies. When oil prices are low it’s actually cheaper to make new plastic than recycling it. It’s attitudes like this within major companies that is halting our goal to reduce plastic. So there’s no wonder Coca-cola aren’t dying to jump on the Deposit Return Scheme band-wagon that Scotland are proposing. Coca-cola said ”We agree with Keep Scotland Beautiful who say ‘the scale of the investment that would be required to roll out a DRS, and the lack of evidence that it would deliver any significant reduction in litter, means a DRS is not the right solution to the litter problem in Scotland at this time’.”.
Various meetings with charities, environmental organisations, plastic companies and governments are taking place to discuss this scheme. Hopefully they can come to an agreement to reduce plastic production and increase recycling rates, whether its using a Deposit Return Scheme or not.
The ‘Have You Got the Bottle’ petition was launched last Tuesday by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland and Marine Conservation Society. The petition to implement a deposit return scheme will be delivered to Roseanna Cunningham, the Environment Secretary for Scotland. Sign up here!
Watch Sky’s documentary ‘A Plastic Tide’
Sign Greenpeace’s petition for a Deposit Return Scheme
Jaywing (2017) Why are we doing it? Available at: https://skyoceanrescue.com/about.html (Accessed: 13 February 2017).
Moore, T. (2017) Ocean rescue: Bottle deposits aid recycling. Available at: http://news.sky.com/story/sky-ocean-rescue-calls-for-uk-plastic-bottle-deposit-scheme-10741655 (Accessed: 13 February 2017).
Moore, T. (2017b) Sky ocean rescue. Available at: http://news.sky.com/feature/sky-ocean-rescue-10734494 (Accessed: 13 February 2017).
Mills, R. (2017) Sky ocean rescue: Prince’s call to consumers. Available at: http://news.sky.com/story/big-brands-respond-to-prince-charles-oceans-plea-10752522 (Accessed: 13 February 2017).
Germany deposit refund system (2009) Available at: https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/tag/germany-deposit-refund-system/ (Accessed: 13 February 2017).
The truth about recycling (2014) Available at: https://www.5gyres.org/truth-about-recycling (Accessed: 13 February 2017)
Matthews, J. (2017) Coca-cola opposition to bottle return scheme. Available at: http://news.sky.com/story/document-reveals-coca-cola-opposes-bottle-return-scheme-10742502 (Accessed: 13 February 2017).
Photo credit: Greenpeace