MINISTERS claim a costly plastic bottle deposit scheme will deliver nearly £1 billion in ‘psychological benefits’ – because of less litter on the streets.
The figure for quality of life buried in a Government document was ridiculed yesterday as a think tank urged Environment Secretary Michael Gove to bin the bottle project.
The Institute of Economic Affairs argued the estimated boost from “disamenity of litter” appeared to have been plucked from mid-air to offset the exorbitant £800 million-a-year running costs of scheme.
Under the plans- expected to be signed off next month – Brits will be given cash to take empty glass and plastic bottles back to new vending machines in shops and supermarkets.
IEA’s Chris Snowdon said: “The Department of Environment has conjured up an implausibly high figure which supposedly represents the psychological benefit of seeing fewer bottles lying around.
“The estimates are biased towards making the scheme look cost effective when it will almost certainly be loss-making.”
The IEA argues the bottle deposit scheme should be binned as it will push up the price of drinks – as businesses fund the recycling machines.
The think tank adds that councils may cut back successful household collections – as they lose out on recyclable material.
‘NONSENSE TO SAY IT WOULD HELP CLEAN UP OCEANS’
Mr Snowdon added it was nonsense to say the scheme would help clean up the oceans – following the pollution highlighted by the BBC’s Blue Planet series.
He said: “Ten rivers transport up to 95 per cent of all the plastic found in the oceans. Eight of them are in Asia. The other two are in Africa.”
The Department for Environment announced plans for the scheme – commonplace in mainland Europe – last year.
Consultation launched with industry in February and is due to close next month.
At the time Mr Gove said: “We can be in no doubt that plastic is wreaking havoc on our marine environment. It is absolutely vital that we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled.”
The Government plans that currently just 43 per cent of 13 billion plastic bottles sold each year in the UK are recycled.
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In its impact assessment, the Government claims annual running costs will be around £814 million.
Benefits total nearly £1.1 billion – but with £986 million based on the uplift from seeing less litter on the streets.
It calculates the figure based on a 2011 academic study into the value of cleaning up the environment.
In the small print, the Government notes there are “sensitivities around litter disamenity estimates as this is an uncertain area of research”.
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