Big push by Britain to tackle plastic pollution


The UK says it is considering a ban on plastic drinking straws as part of a major initiative to reduce plastic waste. Prime Minister Theresa May is also using the 53-country Commonwealth conference in London to urge members to act on pollution.

The conference opens formally today (April 19), but May has been signalling this approach on Twitter for some months. The UK government will give £61 million ($87m) to a new program to fight plastic pollution. Britain is joining other Commonwealth members New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, and Ghana, and hopes that others in the group will participate in the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (CIWM Journal).

UK environment minister Michael Gove, in a series of media appearances, described plastic waste from straws and ear buds as a “scourge”, and plastic waste generally as a “worldwide emergency”. The UK uses an estimated 8.5 billion straws a year (BBC).

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The British government has previously said it was considering ways to limit plastics use through taxation.

Plastic is found in nearly half of packaging globally (Bloomberg) but accounts for about 60 percent of waste material. Moody’s rating agency warns that government crackdowns on plastics could affect the fortunes of companies producing them.

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