In 2015 the annual Great British Beach Clean saw volunteers picking over three thousand pieces of litter per kilometre of beach, an incredible 34% increase compared to the previous year.
This is not an isolated case - according to The Marine Conservation Society there is thought to have been a 43% increase in the number of plastic bottles and a 29% rise in the number of metal drinks cans found on beaches. A truly shocking statistic.
It is clear that the key problem is encouraging consumers to recycle their used bottles and cans once they have consumed their contents. In the past a consumer In the UK could return a bottle or can to a retailer and receive a small refund. This type of incentive no longer exists in the UK, but in many other countries this practice is still alive and well.
For example some states in America have laws called “bottle bills” which are credited with causing a significant increase in recycling rates. Indeed a recent study noted that if a deposit were placed on all beverage containers in the USA, an impressive 75% recycling rate could be achieved for the whole country.
Perhaps a deposit scheme in the UK would aid us in not just achieving, but exceeding the rigorous EU recycling targets. Increasing the amount of plastic bottles and metal cans that are recycled would obviously reduce the amount ending up on our beaches too, an outcome that would hugely benefit the marine environment.
A tree is planted in Africa for every tonne of aluminium recycled in the UK