Plastic litter on a sandy beach

Plastic is a political problem, politicians must wake up and act

As a general election looms and UK Government looks to be planning another delay to their deposit return scheme, we ask - why?

As the UK general election looms, political parties are finalising their party manifestos in their chance to win over voters with their commitments.

With sewage pollution high on the public agenda, political parties are battling it out to prove they’re the best party to solve the problem. But not all the problems the oceans face are being met with the same enthusiasm by the people in power. Unnecessary plastic packaging, a scourge on the environment for many reasons, is piling up in our blue and green wild spaces. We know that communities are having to take the problem into their own hands, like those supporting our Million Mile Clean campaign. Still, without political action, polluters will continue to profit from single-use plastics.

Our calls to political parties are simple: they must tackle the problem upstream by reducing the need for raw plastic, and incentivising the reuse and recycling of plastic we already have. It might sound like a big task, but there are some straightforward ways to rapidly reduce the single-use plastic ending up on UK beaches. One method that’s been successful in other countries for years is the deposit return scheme. It works by requiring a small deposit on drinks containers, encouraging people to return the bottles to get their deposit back once they’ve finished with it.

The good news? The UK Government have committed to delivering a DRS. But eight years and multiple delays on, we’re still in the dark on when the scheme will be up and running. With plastic production set to double by 2050, the people in power must act now to turn the tide.

It may be surprising to hear that the producers of products set to be included in a deposit return scheme all support the plans. It will be a big boost to help them hit targets for recycling bottles. So, what’s holding the politicians back? Less surprisingly, those who make the raw virgin plastic are pushing back, and retailers who sell the products continue to derail the plan’s delivery. Shops aren’t sure where the machines will go to take back containers, and fear that it might impact their business. Pandering to industry, politicians are now dragging their heels. It’s unacceptable that big business is holding back a scheme that would prevent 8 billion containers from entering the environment every year. Even worse, it’s expected that the UK Government is set to announce yet another delay to their plans.

In the meantime, Ocean Activists continue to painstakingly collect bottle after bottle, knowing that politicians could act and fix the issue but are choosing not to. A deposit return scheme is a no-brainer for everyone who doesn’t profit from pollution.

We are calling for politicians to accept that a deposit return scheme is the only way forward. It’s what we need to clean up communities across the country, and commit to reducing plastic pollution plaguing the ocean as soon as possible.