- Surfers Against Sewage campaigners, 38 Degrees, the Marine Conservation Society and cross-party MPs submit Message In A Bottle petition.
- Over quarter of a million signatures presented to 10 Downing Street to call for action on ocean plastic pollution with a UK-wide deposit return system
- Scotland commits to Deposit Return System: Rest of the UK not far behind
- Meeting in 10 Downing Street suggests imminent announcement on DRS
- New poll shows 73% of public support the introduction of a deposit return system
Message In A Bottle
This week we were thrilled to lead a delegation of cross-party MPs and charities to submit our Message In A Bottle petition, the UK’s largest petition calling for a deposit return system with more than quarter of a million signatures, to the Prime Minister. We were joined for the petition submission by our APPG chair Steve Double MP, vice-chair Geraint Davies MP and co-leader of the Green party Caroline Lucas MP, alongside our campaign partners 38 Degrees.
Huge Public Support
Supporting the event, the Marine Conservation Society also released a new poll showing 73% of the British public support the introduction of a deposit return system across the UK for single-use drinks bottles and cans. The petition and poll clearly demonstrate the UK public overwhelmingly supports introducing a deposit return system to stem the tide of ocean plastic pollution.
Downing Street Meeting
Following the submission of the petition, we convened a meeting in 10 Downing Street to discuss the growing economic and environmental evidence to introduce a comprehensive deposit return system on bottles and cans, and the massive public support to do so. We were very encouraged by the discussion, which reflected on the important leverage the scale of the Message in a Bottle petition, will have in relation to imminent government policy decisions on the issue of plastic bottles polluting our environment. We’d like to thank everyone who signed, shared and supported the petition. We were honoured to take your voice to Downing Street to help create the change we want to see to protect our oceans and beaches from the growing tide of plastic pollution.
The harmful impacts from plastic pollution can continue to damage the oceans for hundreds of years. A third of fish currently caught in the UK have plastics in their guts and the average UK seafood eater consumes 11,000 plastic particles annually. Strong and effective action to protect our oceans from plastic pollution is urgently needed and the introduction of a deposit return system would prevent an estimated 4 million plastic bottles from entering the oceans every week in the UK.
There is growing cross-party support within our Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group, with many members championing deposit returns and challenging the government to adopt this system as soon as possible. Secretary of State for the Environment, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, recently described deposit return systems as “a great idea”, saying he’d like to see one introduced “as soon as possible”
The delivery of the petition comes on the back of the recent announcement that Scotland is now committed to introducing a deposit return scheme. The First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed the commitment while unveiling her new programme for government, which sets out how the country will be run for the next 12 months.
Watch this space for the next announcements on deposit return systems and plastic free coastlines.
We would like to thank everyone who signed the Message in a Bottle petition, 38 Degrees, the Marine Conservation Society, Holly Maltby, James Summers, M&C Saatchi, John Harfield, Andrew Couldwell, Andy Hughes, Steve Double MP, Geraint Davies MP and Caroline Lucas MP for their support.
Images by Philippa Velhinho.
We're delighted to see the overwhelming public support for the introduction of a deposit return system to tackle ocean plastic pollution. Society’s plastic addiction has reached crisis point and we need to fast-track proven and effective systems including deposit returns to protect our oceans and beaches from the scourge of plastic pollution. Surfers Against Sewage is today proud to deliver the voice of over quarter of a million supporters to urge the government to follow Scotland’s lead and commit to introducing a comprehensive bottle deposit return system.
Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage
Our recent YouGov poll demonstrates just how strong public support is for a Deposit Return system. The MCS annual survey shows that drinks related litter make up 10% of the refuse found at the coast, indicating the scale of the problem. Deposit return system has been shown to be simple and effective in reducing litter.
Sandy Luk, Chief Executive of the Marine Conservation Society
As Chair of the Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group I was delighted to join Surfers Against Sewage to hand in the Message in a Bottle Petition to Downing Street today. It is great to see such vast public support for the campaign to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme, which I hope will fuel the growing support from within the government. With government, the drinks industry and environmental campaign groups all agreeing that a return scheme is one of the best ways of reducing the amount of plastic polluting our seas I see no reason why this will not now happen.
Steve Double MP, Newquay and St Austell
This huge petition proves that British people want to see an end to plastic bottles clogging up our oceans and littering our beaches. The Scottish government’s decision to bring back bottle deposits proves it is possible to turn the tide on plastic pollution. Now almost a quarter of a million people are calling on Westminster to follow suit.
Holly Maltby, 38 Degrees