The British Plastics Federation has hit out at the decision by department store, Selfridges, to ban single-use plastic bottles in a bid to alleviate marine litter.
Speaking after the retailer announced its decision to remove all single-use plastic water bottles from its foodhalls and restaurants, amounting to approximately 400,000 bottles a year, the Federation said the attempt to prevent littering in this way was “misguided.”
Philip Law, the BPF’s Director General, commented: “The availability of water in portable, lightweight bottles promotes good health and can be critical in emergency situations. Plastic products do not litter themselves onto our streets or into our oceans, people do.”
In addition, Law highlighted the positive progress being made in plastic bottle recycling. “During 2014, nearly 60 percent of PET plastic bottles in the household waste stream were collected for recycling,” he said.
“We all need to ensure that recycling rates continue to grow and we urge people to recycle their plastic bottles and not discard them as litter. The only way we can truly tackle littering is not by indiscriminately banning products, but through ongoing behavioural change programmes.”
Commenting on the recent media coverage surrounding Selfridges’ decision, a spokesperson for the Natural Hydration Council said, “Bottled water represents approximately 18 percent of the packaged soft drinks market and has the lowest environmental impact of all soft drinks. All plastic bottles are 100 percent recyclable.”
The BPF said it is a strong believer that issues surrounding litter can only be addressed by changing consumer behaviour. “The Plastics Industry fully supports public campaigns against littering and sponsors a number of on-the-go recycling initiatives to help people dispose of their empty bottles and encourage sustainability,” it concluded.