Plastic bottles on shelf

The UK could save 1.4 billion plastic bottles a year with a 5p levy - so is it time for action?

Results of a recent BRITA survey showed that Brits would be put off buying single-use plastic water bottles if a 5p levy was added.

The UK currently makes its way through a shocking 3.5 billion single-use plastic water bottles every year, resulting in an untold amount of plastic waste, lots of which sadly end up in the natural world such as rivers and the sea.

Tackling plastic pollution has long been on the agenda, but unfortunately, the measures in place haven’t done enough to stem the tide of plastic. Whilst recycling has been mooted as the solution by many, including big water companies, too many single-use plastic bottles still end up in landfill and the recycling process is not a long-term fix.

Woman refilling water bottle from water station

Culture of reuse

Moving towards a culture of reuse and refill is now urgent, so we want to understand the potential barriers and motivations behind actions we can all take and see if there is support for serious action on cutting down plastic production and waste. The results were clear – more than two fifths of Brits (41%) said a 5p levy would discourage them from buying plastic bottled water, potentially saving 1.4 billion plastic bottles from being bought and discarded every year.

Dolphin jumping in the sea

Marine life is crucial for our planet

According to Sonja Eisfeld Pierantonio at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, BRITA’s charity partners: “It is critical for the health of our planet and oceans to stem the tide on unnecessary plastic, and the introduction of a 5p single-use plastic bottle levy could help to drive the shift towards reusable alternatives”. Marine life is critical for the health of the planet, and many creatures which are allies in our fight against climate change, such as whales and dolphins, are being choked by a deluge of plastic.

BRITA single-use plastic bottles on shelf

Banning single-use plastic items

This year we have seen some promising steps in plastic-related policies – such as banning certain single-use plastic items – and governments around the world are working on a global treaty on plastic pollution which will drive crucial legislation. We’ve also seen how successful levies have been on other environmentally damaging items, such as coffee cups and single-use plastic bags, the latter of which has seen a 98% reduction in use since coming into force. Globally, the use of our products reduces the number of plastic bottles in circulation. And with the help of our Product Impact KPI, we know that in 2022 alone, we helped our customers avoid the use of over 5 billion water bottles! Since then, we have launched the first products with sustainable materials - for example, our new MAXTRA PRO cartridge with bio-based plastic, or the new water filter jugs made from glass. With our packaging, we have been able to save huge amounts of material through innovative solutions including ship in container and with our professional filter and dispenser products our customers can enjoy filtered water in the workplace and out and about.

Woman drinking from a BRITA reusable water filter bottle at a Gym

Brits prefer to drink tap water over bottled water

Despite this, plastic bottles are an increasingly unnecessary item sold in the UK, even though they lack public support, with our research finding Brits prefer to drink tap water (40%) over bottled water (26%) - yet billions of bottles of water are still sold each year in the UK.

Man drinking filtered water from a BRITA reusable water bottle

Shifting drinking habits

Helping enable behaviour change must remain a priority for policymakers as we look to 2024 and beyond. With this in mind, it is time for the Government to step up and find innovative ways to shift our drinking habits away from the plastic bottles and towards the tap.

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