SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan has called for the introduction of a Bottle Deposit Return Scheme in Derry.
He has requested meetings with Derry City & Strabane District Council, the NI Environment Agency (NIEA) and private businesses to explore such an initiative.
Mr. Durkan, who as former Environment Minister oversaw the early implementation of a plastic bag levy, said he felt attitudes had transformed over the past several years and a bottle return scheme would be popular with the public.
“Our ‘throw-away’ culture is completely unsustainable and our planet is bearing the brunt of it.
“Recent years have witnessed a growing realisation that actions must be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address the damage being done to our environment.
“We should be building on the success of the innovative Carrier Bag Levy which has dramatically reduced the amount of plastic swimming in our rivers and strewn in our hedgerows,” he said.
Earlier this year Derry City and Strabane District Council unanimously backed a motion by SDLP Colr. Angela Dobbins that committed to “a more robust strategy to tackle waste that includes achievable targets to make this Council a ‘single-use-plastic-free’ authority in the next five years”.
Mr. Durkan said a bottle return scheme could help the Council achieve this.
“The next big offender we need to tackle is single use drink containers ; empty bottles and cans make up a substantial percentage of the litter on our streets and in our countryside. As Environment Minister, I explored the possibility of implementing a Deposit Return Scheme in Northern Ireland having seen their benefits in other countries. Unfortunately, my attempts were met with some resistance, politically and commercially. However, I believe that, even in the few years since, things have changed - businesses now realise the importance of and indeed the opportunities created by going beyond environmental compliance.”