Mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged to cut Londoners’ consumption of bottled water after a London Assembly investigation found that discarded bottles significantly contribute to the volume of litter which councils and other authorities have to clean up.
Assembly Members say that water bottles account for almost half (49%) of all plastic found in the Thames, a level which risks “significant” harm to the river and surrounding environment.
They want Mr Khan to use his forthcoming Environment Strategy to implement measures which cut the use of disposable bottles, including by working with partners such as Transport for London to introduce free water refilling points in public places.
The Mayor is also being urged to work with retailers to introduce refundable deposits on bottles which are returned for recycling, with AMs saying in Germany where such schemes already exist, 99 per cent of plastic bottles are recycled.
Leonie Cooper AM, chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee, said: “Plastic waste is out of control in London. It litters our parks, pollutes the Thames, harms marine life, and adds waste to London’s landfill sites, which may be full by 2025.
“We have to turn the situation around. Firstly, Londoners need an alternative to buying bottles of water – this is a crucial part of the solution. Tap water needs to be more readily available.
“Secondly, we need to improve our recycling of plastic bottles. Currently, far too many end up in landfill or in the natural environment and London boroughs have some of the worst recycling rates in the whole of the UK.
“Electors heard Sadiq Khan pledge to be the ‘greenest Mayor London has ever had’, now it’s time to fulfil that promise by addressing our thirst for plastic bottled water.”