When splashing around on the Norwegian coastline, Merijn Tinga, also known as the Plastic Soup Surfer, discovered beaches covered in plastic pollution which had travelled all of the way from the UK. Like any good environmentalist, Merijn collected the litter and set about a plan for change, knowing he can’t just pick our way out of the problem. He devised a windsurfing board, made of the plastic he found and natural fibers, to return the plastic to sender and planned a journey across the North Sea.
Over the past month and a half, the Plastic Soup Surfer has traverse the waves from Oslo to London to send his message. Along the way, he has stopped at countries who are tackling their waste problem in a better way to bring their advice to the UK.
That is why, on Wednesday, we held an event in the House of Parliament, to call for the people of power to listen to Windsurfers story and take action. After surfing past the walls of power, Merijn spoke to politicians responsible for the UKs oceans, calling for change.
The change he is asking for? A simple scheme which would prevent 8bn containers pouring into the ocean on a yearly basis. The scheme? A Deposit Return Scheme. Whereby, charging a people a deposit when they buy a product, means they are encouraged to return the container it is in to receive a refund for their deposit. This is a scheme which is already in the pipeline for the UK, but has seen a number of delays meaning that after seven years, we are still waiting for a scheme.
The Environment Minister, Lord Benyon, came to hear the Soup Surfers calls and after listening to him plight, agreed to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to a Deposit Return Scheme.
But we need to continue the fight for our scheme. Just one hour after our meeting, we discovered the glass lobby had coordinated an event for politicians, pushing for the scheme to be cancelled. And we know they have been listened to in the past. That is why we must fight tooth and nail until a scheme is delivered. To start to turn off the tap from the plastic entering the oceans in the first place.
As Merijn found along his journey, this is not a high in the sky idea but something that countries across the pond are delivering with great success. If we are to tackle the plastic pollution problem we face, the government must take these simple steps for our future. People and planet depend on it.