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Global soft drink companies have made their biggest commitment yet to eliminating the use of throwaway plastic bottles, in an action plan presented to parliament.

In a report sponsored by the likes of Danone, Suntory and Nestlé, the companies give unequivocal backing to a government-implemented deposit and return scheme. Their ambition is for zero plastic packaging to be sent to landfill or escape into the natural environment by 2030, and for packaging to be made entirely from recycled or renewable materials or both.

Thursday’s report, produced by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, said: “Achieving this vision requires all stakeholders in the bottled water and soft drinks value chain to commit to eliminating plastic packaging waste as a strategic priority.”

It comes as the government considers imposing a tax on single-use plastics that could see plastic straws banned by next year.

The companies say they will commit to reducing the volume of plastic used in bottled water and soft drinks packaging and ensuring any packaging material used is 100% recyclable or reusable. They say actions to reduce plastic waste require a systemic approach involving business, government and consumers.

“Leading bottled water and soft drinks companies understand that coordinated action is required across the value chain to address the challenge of plastic packaging waste from bottled water and soft drinks and to help create long-term sustainable solutions,” the report said.

It calls on government to reform the producer responsibility scheme – a formula through which companies are supposed to contribute towards recycling their products, but which has been heavily criticized.

And the firms want all revenue from a new scheme and a deposit return system to be reinvested in recycling and reprocessing of plastic packaging. They say a significant shift in consumer behaviour is also required.

Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner for Greenpeace, welcomed the move. “Some of the world’s largest food companies now recognise the huge environmental impacts single-use plastic bottles are having on our marine environment,” she said.

“And it’s positive to see major businesses backing a fully comprehensive deposit return schemes for drinks containers and acknowledging that they should also cut the amount of throwaway plastic they churn out. What we need to see now is real investment in the solutions and ambitious targets for plastic packaging reduction and reuse. With nearly 500bn plastic bottles being produced globally every year and just a few of them being recycled, action cannot come a moment too soon.”

Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021. Consumers currently buy 1m plastic bottles a minute around the world.

Original story from theguardian

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