London Mayor Sadiq Khan is being urged to consider introducing a scheme that offers incentives to return plastic bottles.
It is one of the recommendations of the London Assembly in its new report, which found the amount of waste from single-use plastic bottles is “out of control” in the capital.
It suggests the mayor should explore the feasibility of a Deposit Return Scheme (DSR), with a view to trialling it nationwide. It would offer an incentive for Londoners to return plastic bottles by adding a reclaimable amount to the price of bottled drinks.
The report states in Germany, where DSR machines are located in supermarkets, 99% of plastic bottles are recycled.
It found the London population consumes more plastic bottled water than anywhere else in England, at 7.7 billion a year. However, it has the worst recycling rate in the UK – 32% compared with the national average of 43%.
The report also recommends installing more water refilling stations across the London transport network and promoting apps to help consumers locate businesses willing to provide free water refills.
Environment Committee Chair Leonie Cooper AM 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 third for plastic bottled water.”