Tackling throwaway culture: Theresa May unveils 25 year environmental plan

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Plastic waste is currently in the public consciousness, largely thanks to coverage from BBC's Blue Planet II

The UK will aim to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042, according to Prime Minister Theresa May.

Speaking at the launch of the 25 Year Environment Plan, May said to achieve this government will extend the 5p carrier bag charge to all retailers in England and work with supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles.

Government will also look at how the tax system or charges could reduce waste, with May announcing a call for evidence next month on how to reduce single-use plastics.

Funding into plastics innovation from the government’s £7 billion research and development pot was also promised.

May said: “Today I can confirm that the UK will demonstrate global leadership. We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates.

“To tackle it, we will take action at every stage of the production and consumption of plastic.”

The plan however does not include any legal guarantees, causing criticism from environmental groups such as Greenpeace which said a lack of deposit return scheme represents a ‘missed opportunity’.

There was no mention of a 25p latte levy, a recommendation made by the Environment Audit Committee to increase coffee cup recycling.

Committee chair Mary Creagh, said: “Taxpayers have been left to shoulder the burden of waste disposal costs for too long.

"Coffee cups are a prime example of a packaging product that has been designed and sold without recycling in mind.

“Our ‘latte levy’ would reduce the 2.5 billion cups we throw away each year, while producer responsibility reform would ensure polluters face higher charges for producing packaging which isn’t easily recyclable.”

Other recommendations within the plan included the government committing to support water companies in offering new water refill points in cities.

It is promised the release of a Resources and Waste Strategy and a Bioeconomy Strategy in 2018.

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