Leader comment: Backing Scotland’s battle with the plastic bottle

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GIVEN the excellent quality of the water that runs clear out of Scotland’s taps, it’s remarkable that anyone even contemplates buying the expensive bottled variety.

Our less fortunate neighbours south of the border might have to fuss about with filters to make their tap-water drinkable but ours as good as any that comes out of a bottle.

Yet a large proportion of Scots continue to spend money on often expensive and frequently imported bottled water.

There are, obviously, environmental consequences of using bottled water. Quite apart from the carbon footprint left during the importation of many popular brands, there is the issue of waste.

Reports about “islands” of plastic in the world’s oceans have shown how serious the environmental disaster caused by plastic is.

As the negative impact of discarded plastics becomes increasingly apparent, major corporations are now rushing to ditch the use of disposable plastic items. Most recently, the fast food giant McDonald’s announced that it was to end the use of plastic straws.

But there are simple steps we can all take to cut down on the use of plastic. Scottish Water has launched campaign to encourage greater use of refillable bottles.

Research shows that almost three quarters of Scots mostly drink tap-water but less than a third take a reusable bottle when they’re away from home. An increase to that figure would be very welcome, indeed.

The health benefits of drinking water rather than the sugary soft drinks so popular among Scots are perfectly clear. The so-called “sugar tax” is designed to reduce the consumption of those drinks and there is, surely, a neat symbiosis between this objective and the desire for people to carry refillable water bottles.

Yesterday, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham described the campaign as “fantastic” and said it fitted in with the Scottish Government’s work to reduce dependence on single use plastic.

This was reassuring to hear because there is, we believe, more ministers could be doing to bring about a change in attitude to the use of refillable bottles. The provision of refillable bottles to every school-child, perhaps even - upon request - to every Scot would certainly make clear the Government’s genuine commitment to substantially reducing the number of single-use plastic items destined for landfill.