Prime Minister Theresa May is all set for green Britain.
The Prime Minister used a speech on Thursday to call for the end of all avoidable plastic waste by 2042, and as well as the supermarket queue reforms will announce extending the plastic bag charge to all shops in England – not just larger outlets.
Since being introduced in 2015, the 5p charge has seen an estimated 9million fewer bags used by shoppers in the UK. The Government is also investigating introducing a ‘takeaway tax’ on single-use plastic items, such as food containers.
In a speech at a nature reserve in southwest London, May said that her Conservative government’s environmental agenda was now “center stage” and that “conservatism and conservation are natural allies.”
She also focused part of her speech on the “scourge” of plastics and pledged to eliminate what she called “all avoidable” plastic waste by 2042.
Shoppers who shun plastic packaging could skip busy supermarket queues under proposals put forward by Theresa May.
Rooting out single-use plastic items completely from the UK, the Government will urge shops to introduce ‘plastic-free’ checkouts to encourage customers to think twice about additional packaging.
May said: “In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.”
Much of this waste ends up in waterways and oceans, May said, with one in three fish caught in the Channel containing pieces of plastic.
She 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.”
Greenpeace said the announcements on plastics were “a missed opportunity”, with a particular omission being no plans for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, which the group said was shown to work well.
Labour called Tory attempts to rebrand themselves as friends of the environment “cynical”, and attacked the Government’s record on air quality and climate change targets.
Greenpeace said the plastics plan “lacks urgency, detail and bite.”
A rigorous consent by the Environmental groups were considered for the plan before the speech, and it is concluded that one section of the plan, on how to make planning and development more environmentally friendly and protect the green belt, remained blank in the copies, possibly because it had not been finalized.
The chief executive of Friends of the Earth, Craig Bennett, said the government’s record on green issues such as air quality and fracking meant he was skeptical about its future ambitions.
“It’s easy to make lots of commitments about things that will be done when you’re no longer in office, and the point is, if you look at the government’s performance on some key issues over the last year, there’s some real reasons to be concerned.” He said.
Ben Stafford, the campaigns director of the conservation group WWF, said: “We would say that you need more comprehensive and ambitious legislation with far-reaching targets if you’re going to get into a position where you’re actually improving the environment in the longer term. It’s a very good question as to whether they’ve got the commitment to do that.”
In her speech, May announced a plan to use the Commonwealth heads of government summit in April to push for a charter across member states to reduce the amount of plastic waste in oceans.
May is also expected to announce new funding into plastics innovation by inviting bids into the Government’s £7billion research and development pot.
It is estimated that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s and research indicates that without urgent action to cut demand this is likely to be 34 billion tonnes by 2050.
During its recent Great British Beach Clean Up of the UK, the Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100m stretch of beach surveyed, and of this, rubbish from food and drink made up at least one fifth.
She added: “Encouraging more water fountains, extending charges on plastic bags and funding for innovation can all be part of the solution, but the overall plastics plan lacks urgency, detail and bite.
“The most glaring gap is support for deposit return schemes. These are tried-and-tested ways to keep plastic bottles out of the environment and have strong public backing, yet there’s no trace of them in the government announcement.
“And with another truckload of plastic waste going into our oceans every minute, we just can’t wait another 25 years before eliminating throwaway plastic.”
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