OSS supports deposit return scheme

15th March, 2018

The Outdoor Swimming Society has joined forces with other water sports groups and marine conservation bodies to support the demand for a deposit return scheme on bottles and cans.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)  wrote to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove calling for a consistent UK-wide approach to the introduction of deposit return schemes. Other supporters included the Royal Yachting Association, the British Sub-Aqua Club, the Marine Conservation Society UK, the Blue Marine Foundation, and Fathoms Free. Representing surfers, swimmers, kayakers, sailors, divers and other recreational water users, the letter highlights growing concern at the problems empty cans and bottles cause in the marine and terrestrial environment.

Rob Thompson, founder of marine litter charity Fathoms Free, said “Fathoms Free have observed a dramatic reduction in plastic bags littering the marine environment since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge, having previously been one of the most commonly found items whilst diving. Plastic bottles are also amongst our most regularly collected items. We are confident that a deposit return scheme will be a simple and highly effective solution to reducing this type of marine litter.”

Photo: Ian Lean

The case for deposit return is strong, deposit return schemes work well in other countries, with return rates of well over 90%.  A staggering 38.5 million single-use plastic bottles are used every day in the UK. Only half of these are recycled, with many ending up on beaches and in our oceans. Data from the Great British Beach Clean 2017 shows that during a three day period volunteers picked up a staggering 14064 metal, glass and plastic drinks bottles and cans, not including caps and lids.

“Outdoor swimmers see and step barefoot on to litter, and have become part of the mobile army clearing it up as we travel,” says OSS Founder Kate Rew. “We applaud all positive moves made to reduce plastic waste and turn back the plastic tide, but it’s not just plastic that’s we encounter on our barefoot travels. We see glass, tin cans and general litter: left behind at picnic and swimming spots in summer, washed up with driftwood as shore debris, beneath us in lakes and riverbeds, and poking out of the undergrowth in woods and hedgerows. Cutting the amount of plastic in circulation is key, but reducing the amount of packaging used by supermarkets and food manufacturers, and improving rates of domestic recycling and sorting of household litter should be top aims for us a society, to keep Britain beautiful.”

Click here to read more, make your voice heard by signing our bottle deposit petition!