Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has announced her intention to end all plastic waste deemed “avoidable” in the UK by 2042. “I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly,” PM May said of the pledge.
The movement to end “throwaway culture” is part of the UK government’s 25-year plan to create a “Green Future,” and improve the environment. This effort to make such drastic improvements in a single generation is ambitious, though it has received some criticism for lacking legal backing.
In contrast, the BBC reports there are also those in environmental groups and the Labour party who think that the timeline for this pledge is too far off, and that action needs to be taken much sooner.
Whatever the time-frame may be, if these efforts result as intended, it could make a serious, tangible environmental impact.
Within this “plastic-free” plan, supermarkets will be pushed to adopt plastic-less aisles. Additionally, taxation on single-use items will be considered. The plan will also continue the five pence (about eight US cents) charge for plastic bags in shops, increase government funding for research in plastic innovation, and push efforts to support decreased pollution and plastic use in developing countries.
Plastic waste is “one of the great environmental scourges of our time,” May said, according to the BBC. “In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.”
This government initiative is not the only effort aiming to clean up the UK. In 2017, a seabin was Installed in Portsmouth Harbor in the UK. This technology works to clean plastic, oil, and other debris out of bodies of water. Additionally, David Attenborough, famed UK naturalist, has drawn public attention to the rising and severe realities of plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution is a potentially life-threatening environmental burden, one that we must both clean up and prevent from continuing. In PM May’s own words, “We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that, for example, dumping toxic chemicals into rivers was ever the right thing to do.”