Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'A Scourge on Our Seas': UK Government Takes Aim at Single-Use Plastics

Popular
'A Scourge on Our Seas': UK Government Takes Aim at Single-Use Plastics

The UK government announced plans Wednesday to end to the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs in England.

"Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife so it is vital we act now," Environment Secretary Michael Gove said. "We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use, and now we want to take action on straws, stirrers and cotton buds to help protect our marine life."


"We've already seen a number of retailers, bars and restaurants stepping up to the plate and cutting plastic use, however it's only through government, businesses and the public working together that we will protect our environment for the next generation—we all have a role to play in turning the tide on plastic," Gove added.

The British government said it will work with manufacturers to develop alternatives to for the items and ensure there is sufficient time to adapt. It will also propose excluding plastic straws for medical reasons.

The move follows the Scottish government, which announced plans in January to outlaw plastic cotton buds. The next month, Scotland announced intentions to ban plastic straws by the end of 2019.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Theresa May announced her government would earmark £61.4 million towards cleaning the world's oceans of plastics. May is calling on all Commonwealth countries to sign up to the newly formed Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, through which the funds will be directed, to stop plastic waste.

"Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting," May said about this week's summit.

The action is fitting with the theme of this year's Earth Day, on Sunday, April 22, which will focus on ending plastic pollution.

It's not just the UK government stepping up to fight plastic. Costa Coffee, the largest coffee chain in Britain with more than 2,000 stores, pledged on Wednesday to become the first to recycle the same volume of takeaway cups they put onto the market.

Even though these cups are mostly made of paper, these single-use items are almost never recycled or composted because they are lined with plastic.

In January, Iceland Foods, a major UK supermarket chain specializing in frozen food, committed to eliminating plastic packaging from its own brand of products by the end of 2023.

Efforts to curb plastic use really picked up after British naturalist Sir David Attenborough presented his 2017 BBC series Blue Planet II. The series, which called particular attention to the issue of ocean plastics, even prompted Queen Elizabeth II to ban plastic straws and bottles on all royal properties, including public cafes.

Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

Read More Show Less
A rare rusty-spotted cat is spotted in the wild in 2015. David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Misunderstanding the needs of how to protect three rare cat species in Southeast Asia may be a driving factor in their extinction, according to a recent study.

Read More Show Less
Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

Read More Show Less