October 2017

Bottle Deposit Research Inspires Sky News

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As part of its Ocean Rescue campaign, Sky travelled from London to Bristol investigating the effects of litter before interviewing Chris Sherrington, who leads Eunomia’s work on litter prevention.

Sky’s inspiration for the piece came from Eunomia’s estimate that 700,000 plastic drinking bottles are littered every day in the UK – enough to reach from London to Bristol if laid end to end. Earlier this year, Eunomia included this estimate in its response to a UK Government consultation and call for evidence on sources of microplastics entering the marine environment. Although councils make efforts to clean up plastic litter, many plastic bottles are inevitably blown or washed into rivers and ultimately end up in our oceans as marine plastic pollution.

The news story reported on Eunomia’s calculation that the introduction of a deposit refund system (DRS), in which a small charge attached to drinks containers at the point of purchase is refunded when returned to the vendor, could save around 600,000 containers from ending up as litter every day.

Chris Sherrington, Head of Environmental Policy and Economics at Eunomia, was interviewed by the Sky’s Science and Medical Correspondent Thomas Moore in front of Bristol’s iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. Talking about the economic incentive a DRS gives people not to litter, he said:

“People want to get their money back. It’s not just a reward scheme: people pay up front and they want it back. That small incentive has been shown to work elsewhere and there is no reason why it can’t work here.”

Head of Environmental Policy and Economics at Eunomia Chris Sherrington discusses the merits of a DRS with Sky’s Science and Medical Correspondent Thomas Moore

The government’s Environmental Audit Committee has recently re-opened its inquiry into Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups and Plastic Bottles Inquiry and Chris has been invited to present evidence to the committee on 17th October 2017.

Sky News also interviewed Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy, who spoke about the high cost – about £1bn a year – of picking up litter in the UK, and the need for behaviour change.

You can view the Sky News piece on our YouTube channel here.