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Mayor urged to offer money back for bottles

The Mayor of London has been urged to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in an effort to increase recycling rates of bottled water in the capital.

The London Assembly Environment Committee made the suggestion as part of its Bottled Water report, launched this week, which examines the environmental impacts of plastic water bottles and makes recommendations to reduce the effects.

It found that Londoners consume more plastic bottled water per person than anywhere else in England, however recycling rates are among the lowest in the UK and plastic bottles make up 10% of all litter found in the Thames.

The Committee said the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, should explore the feasibility of a DRS in London, with a view to the government trialling a nationwide scheme.

It said a DRS would offer an incentive for Londoners to return plastic bottles by adding a reclaimable amount to the price of bottled drinks, highlighting that in Germany, where DRS machines are located in places such as supermarkets, 99% of plastic bottles are recycled.

Other recommendations include support for more community water refill schemes in which Londoners can fill up water bottles for free at participating venues; and the promotion of apps to help consumers locate businesses willing to provide free water refills.

“Plastic waste is out of control in London,” said Environment Committee chair, Leonie Cooper. “It litters our parks, pollutes the Thames, harms marine life, and adds waste to London’s landfill sites, which may be full by 2025.

“Electors heard Sadiq Khan pledge to be the ‘greenest Mayor London has ever had’, now it’s time to fulfil that promise by addressing our thirst for plastic bottled water.”