Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Theresa May wants United Kingdom to lead global plastic waste eradication

Theresa May wants United Kingdom to lead global plastic waste eradication

Unveiling a new environmental agenda, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday Britain would eradicate avoidable plastic waste in the next quarter century.

"In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly", she went on to say, adding that much of the plastic waste ended up in waterways and oceans. The UK plastics industry invented the global plastics industry and a whole pipeline of innovations, including the discovery of polyethylene, have made it a leading player in the global plastics industry.

"We look forward to working with government to help the United Kingdom progress towards a truly circular economy by helping to reduce littering, significantly increasing recycling infrastructure, ensuring all packaging used for food and drink consumed "on the go" is captured for recycling, encouraging design for recyclability and the use of recycled materials in new low carbon products".

The UK initiative will aim to "re-define what is possible and create a plastic system that works" by collaborating with businesses, industry, government and local authorities.

A holistic initiative is now in development by sustainable production charity WRAP in a joint partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


The government has set a 25 year plan to set up a circular economy in single use plastics, and even suggested supermarkets set up a "plastic free aisle". "And promoting innovation amongst producers will be critical to ensuring we eliminate unnecessary single-use items, as well as making sure that they are taking financial responsibility for the impact these products have". "Working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we will bring together every "body, business and organisation" involved in the life-cycle of plastics to make the move from a throw away culture to one where resources are used over and over again".

WRAP's CEO Marcus Glover said that this expansive approach is important: "So far the solutions to plastic waste have been piecemeal".

The Environmental Audit Committee, a cross-party green watchdog, has also recommended a 25 pence "latte levy" to be charged on top of the price of a beverage to combat the overuse of plastic-lined disposable coffee cups.

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has launched an initiative to help "turn the tide on the UK's growing issue of plastic waste". "Achieving it will require close collaboration and significant commitment from industry, government, and society at large".

In an effort to get a grip on this issue, Theresa May earlier today announced a further clamp down on 5p plastic bags with a new proposal to extend the charge that now affects supermarkets to stores with fewer than 250 employees.

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