- REUTERS/Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool
- Theresa May will announce plans to extend the 5p plastic charge and tell retailers to create plastic-free aisles in order to crack down on plastic waste.
- The prime minister will vow to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
- Labour described the move as a “cynical attempt at rebranding” the Tory party’s image.
LONDON – Theresa May will today pledge to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 in a speech on her government’s environmental policies.
The prime minister is set to outline a 25-year plan for addressing the “one of the great environmental scourges of our time” which will involve extending the 5p plastic carrier bag charge to all retailers in England and supermarkets being encouraged to sell shelve food without plastic packaging.
“Today I can confirm that the UK will demonstrate global leadership. We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates,” May will say on Thursday morning. “To tackle it we will take action at every stage of the production and consumption of plastic.”
The prime minister is set to announce the following policies:
- The extension of the 5p plastic bag charge to all retailers in England.
- Encourage retailers to introduce plastic-free aisles where all food is loose.
- Assessment of how extra tax or charges could be used to reduce plastic waste.
- New funding for plastics innovation.
- Help developing nations decrease plastic waste through UK aid.
Labour has accused the Conservatives of a “cynical attempt” at “rebranding the Tories’ image” amid concern within May’s party that it is struggling to connect with young people.
The Liberal Democrats said it “beggared belief” that a 25-year target had been announced when action was required immediately.
In a speech this morning, May is expected to say: “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, untreated, into rivers was ever the right thing to do.
“In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.
“In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.
“This plastic is ingested by dozens of species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds, causing immense suffering to individual creatures and degrading vital habitats.
“1 million birds, and over 100,000 other sea mammals and turtles die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. One in three fish caught in the English Channel contains pieces of plastic.
“This truly is one of the great environmental scourges of our time.” She’ll add “I want the Britain of the future to be a truly Global Britain, which is a force for good in the world. Steadfast in upholding our values – not least our fierce commitment to protecting the natural environment.
“When we host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April we will put the sustainable development of our oceans firmly on the agenda.
“We will work with our partners to create a Commonwealth Blue Charter and push for strong action to reduce plastic waste in the ocean.
“We will direct our 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.”