The government is increasing measures to reduce the amount of plastic waste created by the UK and has called for a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds.
From news that plastic waste looks set to treble within the next decade to scientists discovering that the Great Pacific garbage patch is now nearly three times the size of France, the onslaught of urgent headlines around this environmental issue means that the p-word is on everybody’s lips and minds.
But although these warnings undoubtedly leave us feeling worried for the future of our planet, it’s encouraging that steps are being made to cut down on the amount of plastic waste we’re producing, the most recent of which is a proposed ban of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds.
Plastic straws have long been cited as one of the biggest contributing factors of plastic waste, with a host of bars and restaurants across the country, including All Bar One and Wagamamas, recently limiting their distribution of plastic straws.
BBC News reports that Prime Minister Theresa May has now announced that there will be a consultation later this year on a possible ban of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds. The move would aim to cut down on the plastic pollution infecting our oceans and rivers.
If the ban goes ahead, these products will be completely banned for sale and the government will work with the industry to develop more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, May said that plastic waste was “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world” and heralded the UK as a “world leader” on tackling this issue.
She cited the success of the 5p plastic bag charge, which is believed to have caused an approximately 30% drop in plastic bags on the seabed and the banning of microbeads .
She urged other leaders to “join the fight” against plastic pollution, saying: “The UK Government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbeads ban, and today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
“The Commonwealth is a unique organisation, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines.
“Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We’ve already seen a number of retailers, bars and restaurants stepping up to the plate and cutting plastic use, however it’s only through government, business and the public working together that we will protect our environment for the next generation - we all have a role to play in turning the tide on plastic.”
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