07/02/2018 16:04 GMT | Updated 07/02/2018 18:31 GMT

Environment Department Supplied With £15,000 Of Bottled Water In The Past 3 Years

'The fight to clear up our plastic waste should be led from the top'.

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Environment Secretary Michael Gove was pictured with a reusable coffee cup in Downing Street in January - but his department has spent £15,000 on bottled water in the past three years

The public do not believe the government is doing enough to tackle plastic waste, according to a new poll.

The survey, carried out by D-CYFOR, shows 61% do not believe enough is being done to encourage companies to create and use recyclable packaging, 24% support a “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups proposed by MPs, while 49% want to see coffee shops charging less if customers bring their own reusable cups.

More than £15,000 has been spent on supplying bottled water for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the last three years, and campaigners say ministers are not taking the issue seriously enough.

Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, told HuffPost UK: “The public clearly aren’t satisfied with the lacklustre approach being taken to reduce the amount of waste packaging being produced. It’s high time the government stopped just talking and started to act.

“Recycling is important, but even more critical is significantly reducing the production of plastic packaging in the first place.

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Friends Of The Earth want the government to do more to tackle plastic waste

“This is especially important when we know that 12 million tonnes of plastic already makes its way into our oceans each year, and the industry is set on expanding production by several times compared to current levels. This would spell further disaster for our natural environment, as well as having serious implications for the health of people and wildlife.

“The ultimate responsibility for removing plastic from our world lies with the companies that make and market it, and governments whose job it is to regulate industry to protect our health and homes.”

About 2.5bn disposable coffee cups are thrown away in the UK every year, with less than one in every 400 recycled. Despite this, most poll respondents thought the additional 25p charge per cup suggested by MPs was too high, with 31% claiming they would be willing to pay 5p.

The bottled water industry sells about 13bn bottles every year, and just 3bn of those are recycled. 

In response to a written question from Tim Farron on how much his department had spent on plastic bottled water in the last three years, Defra minister George Eustice claimed the amount had fallen by over a third since 2014.

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Tim Farron

“Defra as a department does not purchase any plastic water bottles,” he said, stating that water was supplied by an external catering company.

The former farmer added: “The contractor does not hold this level of data for more than three years.

“The current catering contract expires this summer. The tender for the new contract stipulates that the supplier must not use plastic bottles and single use plastics. Re-usable glasses are now supplied.”

Farron told HuffPost UK: “It is welcome news that plastic water bottles are being used less and less by government departments. The fight to clear up our plastic waste should be led from the top, and it is promising that these numbers are going the right way.

“The government now need to ensure that they take serious action to bring these numbers down to zero. Our planet and our oceans will be a cleaner, greener place if we can drastically cut our plastic waste.”

The D-CYFOR survey interviewed a representative online sample of 1,015 adults aged 18+ over the course of 19-20 January 2017. The results have been weighted to reflect the profile of all UK adults. D-CYFOR is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.