Campaigners deliver giant plastic bottle artwork to Michael Gove

Green campaigners have delivered a giant plastic bottle artwork to the Government as they warned against watering down a bid to boost recycling.

Plans have been unveiled to encourage recycling with a “deposit return scheme” that adds a deposit to the price of drinks at purchase and refunds it when people return their empty containers to designated return points.

Under the Government plans, the scheme could either be “all in” – covering drinks containers of all sizes – or an “on-the-go” scheme that restricts the containers involved to those less than 750ml in size.

Greenpeace want to see an all-inclusive deposit return scheme brought in for bottles and cans (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Greenpeace want to see an all-inclusive deposit return scheme brought in for bottles and cans (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Greenpeace has warned more than six billion plastic bottles could be littered, landfilled or incinerated if the reverse vending machines which pay out for each bottle or can recycled do not cover all container sizes and materials.

The environment group delivered a 29ft-long artwork – built by artist Lulu Quinn out of more than 2,500 plastic bottles collected by volunteers from UK streets, beaches and river banks – to Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

Greenpeace wants to see an all-inclusive scheme, but has claimed industry is pushing for the Government to introduce a more limited programme, covering only smaller containers and excluding some materials.

An official assessments suggests a deposit return scheme with a 15p charge could boost recycling rates to 85%, though other countries with similar schemes see recycling of upwards of 95%.

The deposit return scheme could a deliver net value of almost £2.2 billion over 10 years if it was all inclusive or £249 million for an on-the-go scheme, the Government estimates.

Greenpeace says industry is lobbying to restrict the planned deposit return scheme (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Greenpeace says industry is lobbying to restrict the planned deposit return scheme (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Sam Chetan-Welsh, Greenpeace UK political adviser, said: “We are delivering this 29ft artwork to Michael Gove urging him not to lose his bottle.

“A watered down scheme would confuse customers and allow billions of bottles to pollute the environment, and it would also be less valuable to our economy.

“The Environment Secretary must hold his nerve in the face of industry lobbying and introduce an all-in deposit return scheme, covering all sizes and materials, which actually does what it sets out to do.”