United Kingdom pledges to cut all avoidable plastic waste by 2042

Theresa May to call time on avoidable plastics by 2042

UK government declares war on plastics

"I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly", PM May said of the pledge.

The government's plan commits the country to eliminating "avoidable" plastic waste by 2042, with a range of actions aimed at reducing waste at all stages from point of production to end-of-life.

The initiative was announced as part of the government's 25 Year Environment Plan, which was launched today in a speech by Theresa May with a specific focus on the huge problem of plastic waste.

However, in a statement, the British Plastic Federation (BPF) said that it was "very disturbed" at the tone of the Prime Minister's language and it did not recognise the 170,000 jobs that the plastics industry brings to the UK. They provide protection for products and prevent food waste.

Within this "plastic-free" plan, supermarkets will be pushed to adopt plastic-less aisles. "Plastics should not be in the sea", adds the BPF, "and it is right that the United Kingdom, alongside other developed nations, should set an example of best practice". It also aims to increase the collection and recycling of plastics packaging. It is highly doubtful that simply providing alternative materials will actually reduce littering in the United Kingdom, as this is an issue of personal behaviour.

In a speech at the London Wetland Centre, May promised to extend a 5 pence levy on plastic bags to smaller shops and hinted at similar new charges on single-use plastic containers used for takeaway food and drinks.

By applying circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows, the report envisioned a "New Plastics Economy" which would prioritise and reward the reuse and recycling of packaging materials, and reduce negative outcomes such as the large-scale leakage of plastic into our seas.

However, green groups have reacted and said the proposals would have no legal force. "And we have a responsibility to protect and enhance it", May said.

Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP explained that the scheme will "transform the United Kingdom plastics system" as opposed to the "piecemeal" solution offered so far.

He added: "Having invested heavily in new facilities to support the move away from landfill over the last decade, we are pleased that this plan recognises the important role energy recovery facilities have played in this transition and the ambition to make these facilities more efficient by identifying ways to increase the use of the heat they produce".

Reacting to May's proposal today a WWF spokesperson agreed with the idea behind banning single-use plastic bags, saying: "We want to see a ban on single-use plastic by 2025, and more urgent action on dirty air, climate change and protecting our precious natural heritage".

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