Restrict bottled water ads and tax shrink-wrap to cut UK pollution

Restrictions ought to be placed on bottled water promoting and a 10p tax ought to be added to shrink-wrapped packs to curb the UK’s 10m bottle-a-day behavior, based on campaigners hoping to sort out the plastic air pollution disaster.

Regardless of the supposed plastics backlash impressed by TV exhibits such because the BBC’s Blue Planet, massive water manufacturers are forecast to chalk up development of greater than 10% over the subsequent 4 years, equal to an additional 280m bottles, a brand new report by the consultancy Retail Economics says.

The report, commissioned by campaigners – together with the teams Refill and Whale and Dolphin Conservation in addition to the filter agency Brita – argued that model promoting performed a “important” function in burnishing the “desirability” of bottled water.

The creation of devoted manufacturers has seen bottled water consumption within the UK enhance from only one 300ml can per head within the mid-Seventies to 37 litres a head in 2021, based on Retail Economics’ chief govt, Richard Lim.

Britons spent £1.6bn on branded and grocery store own-label bottled water in 2021. This used about 3.5bn bottles, or 10m a day, Lim estimates. Manufacturers are the driving pressure behind the business’s development, accounting for £1bn of gross sales and a couple of.5bn bottles. Buoyed up by promoting, this footprint might be 2.8bn bottles by 2026, Lim stated.

“We have to make modifications to show the tide on this challenge earlier than it’s too late,” stated Lim of the white paper, which recommends proscribing promoting and promotions and placing environmental labels on bottles.

Whereas carrying a reusable water bottle has change into the norm for many individuals, the research discovered that simply over half of the UK inhabitants, or 51%, drink bottled water as soon as per week or extra. The frequency was highest amongst millennials, at 61%, primarily based on a pattern of greater than 2,000 households.

The analysis established that greater than half of all bottled water was being drunk at residence or at work, locations the place tapwater is available.

“Plastic bottled water is a scar on our society,” stated David Corridor, the UK managing director of Brita. “Plastic bottled water takes about 5 seconds to make, 5 minutes to make use of, and a staggering 500 years to interrupt down in landfill. It’s one of many important culprits of the worldwide plastic air pollution disaster.”

Whereas lately multipacks of baked beans, soup and tuna have been stripped of plastic packaging, the research discovered that 90% of bottled water on a typical grocery store shelf was nonetheless encased in a wrapper. This plastic-on-top-of-plastic accounts for 1m items of wrap daily.

A small variety of massive firms are behind the vast majority of branded bottled water gross sales within the UK. They embody Highland Spring; Danone, which owns Volvic and Evian; and Nestlé, proprietor of Buxton mineral water.

The report urged that the Promoting Requirements Authority and Competitors and Markets Authority ought to evaluate the environmental claims and credentials of bottled water producers.

The authors beneficial that the federal government ought to deal with bottled water in the identical approach because it does meals bought in England which are excessive in fats, salt or sugar, eradicating them from outstanding positioning in outlets.

On packaging, it says wrappers on multipacks are “tantamount to a plastic bag” and ought to be handled like one. It suggests a 10p cost below current plastic bag levies, or that they need to be handled like plastic straws and stirrers, that are banned.

A spokesperson for Danone UK & Eire stated its Evian and Volvic manufacturers “allow shoppers to make more healthy hydration selections they’ll take pleasure in conveniently” and that within the UK and Eire it had dedicated to utilizing 100% recycled plastic in its bottles by 2025.

“Growing recycling charges even have a job to play, and a unified, constant deposit return scheme is important to this. Any restrictions on promoting for the class would danger inadvertently driving shoppers in direction of much less wholesome beverage choices.”

A spokesperson for the Pure Supply Water Affiliation (NSWA), the UK business’s commerce physique, stated its members had been targeted on decreasing their packaging footprint.

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