Tackling Plastic Waste and Protecting Our Environment

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II has done much to focus public attention on the estimated1 million birds, and 100,000 other sea mammals and turtles which die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

In the UK alone, during its recent Great British Beach Clean Up, the Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100 metre stretch of beach surveyed, and of this rubbish from food and drink made up at least one fifth.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan addresses this most pressing problem. The measures include extending the 5p carrier bag charge to all retailers, working with supermarkets to encourage them to introduce plastic-free aisles in which all the food is loose, and investing new money in plastics innovation.

The Government will also encourage manufacturers to take responsibility for the impacts of their products and rationalise the number of different types of plastics they use.

Indeed, one major supermarket chain has just announced it will go plastic-free within six years. The current plastic packaging would be replaced with paper and pulp trays and paper bags, which would be recyclable through domestic waste collections or in-store recycling facilities. It can only be a matter of time before other supermarket chains follow suit.

However, the Government recognises that tackling the use of plastic cannot be done in isolation. The sustainable development of our oceans will be on the agenda when it hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April. It will work to create a Commonwealth Blue Charter and push for strong action to reduce plastic waste in the ocean.

In addition, the Government will direct its development spending to help developing nations reduce plastic waste, increase our own marine protected areas at home, and establish new Blue Belt protections in our Overseas Territories.

The solution to this global problem will require change and effort from all countries around the world, which the UK will work to achieve.

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7 Comments

  1. Norman
    Posted January 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    What I do not understand, is how all this rubbish gets into the sea in the first place. In our house, we make full use of the local council’s recycling facilities, but use the plastic shopping bags for the disposal of non-recyclable household waste, which then go tidily into the wheelie bin and are then incinerated.
    There is a cultural malaise in the big cities. Litter fines do not seem to work, and with graffiti everywhere, dropping stuff around seems to be an act of cool defiance. Even so, I still do not see how this all gets into the sea.
    Once again, I’m just a little wary of this coercive over-reaction. Are the rest of us to be made guilty, because of the actions of a (sadly large) irresponsible minority? In fact, so many things now seem to be driven by minority interests, with an agenda that sounds reasonable, but curtails common sense-freedom.

  2. Chris Oakes
    Posted January 16, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    “The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan”

    Any news on the tractor thing?

  3. Peter Golton
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    The aspiration to end single use plastic is good but I don’t see any real evidence of “strong measures” and “strong action” by government. The 5p levy on plastic bags was an EU directive and I’m not sure how “encouragement” is strong enough. A bit like saying the government is encouraging bosses to reduce their bonuses.

  4. Epikouros
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The more prosperous nations are the ones who are least responsible for plastic waste pollution. So the obvious answer to reducing plastic waste is to help poorer nations become more wealthy otherwise richer nations efforts will only have marginal impact. To do so is to encourage free trade and discourage their propensity to embrace socialism and instead wholeheartedly embrace free market capitalism. As we know from observation that trade and capitalism does make poorer nation wealthier and socialism keeps them impoverished or impoverishes them even more.

    • Dennis
      Posted January 17, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Epikouros – you haven’t said where fundamentally this wealth comes from – what’s the source and what does this mean?

      • Epikouros
        Posted January 19, 2018 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        I believe I have. In exactly the same way that wealth is being created now to take billions more out of poverty than in anytime in history and what has given the West the prosperity it now enjoys. Free market capitalism, trade and by eschewing socialism. To accelerate it I would also add all world trade be free of tariffs and other protectionist devices.

  5. Iain Gill
    Posted January 17, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Pointless doing this in a unilateral way, it just pushed our costs up, and forces work abroad to countries with less strict rules or less keen enforcement of rules. And our contribution will be small compared to the big boys.

    Just cynical virtue signaling, and not joined up to any joined up world view or set of views on our place in it.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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