A £61.4m war chest to fight the rising tide of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has been announced by the Government.
Theresa May has set out plans to get rid of avoidable plastic waste within 25 years – as she also confirmed the 5p bag charge will be extended to all shops.
The Prime Minister said she wanted to “make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it”.
Unveiling her Environmental Plan in a speech in west London, she called plastic “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.
Single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK would fill the Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times, the PM said.
Supermarkets will also be encouraged to have plastic-free aisles where items such as fruit and veg are loose rather than wrapped up in film.
Charges and taxes on single-use items, for example takeaway containers, will also be considered.
And the 5p plastic bag charge will now also be brought in for smaller shops, which were previously exempt.
But critics of the plan have called it a “missed opportunity” and say it should be underpinned by new laws in order to hold the Government and businesses to account.
Speaking at London’s Wetland Centre, Mrs May insisted that Brexit would not lead to lower environmental standards.
“We will set out our plans for a new, world-leading independent statutory body to hold government to account and give the environment a voice.”
Other pledges include aid to help developing nations reduce plastic use and a new Northern Forest from Cheshire to Lancashire and Yorkshire.
There was no confirmation in the PM’s speech of a suggested 25p charge on the millions of disposable coffee cups used each year – of which only a tiny percentage get recycled.
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Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com