The UK Prime Minister Is Working to End Plastic Litter by 2042

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street On January 10 | Neil Hall  EPA

In a speech on the environment, May will announce plans to close the exemption that means retailers with fewer than 250 employees do not have to charge customers 5 pence for a single-use plastic bag. "In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly".

"We look forward to working with government to help the United Kingdom progress towards a truly circular economy by helping to reduce littering, significantly increasing recycling infrastructure, ensuring all packaging used for food and drink consumed "on the go" is captured for recycling, encouraging design for recyclability and the use of recycled materials in new low carbon products".

The Prime Minister described plastic waste as "one of the great environmental scourges of our time" as she launched a 25-year strategy to tackle the issue.

The government also said it would support WRAP in "working with industry and local authorities to ensure that a consistent set of materials are collected by all local authorities".

In the United Kingdom alone, she will say, the amount of single-use plastic dumped each year would fill the Royal Albert Hall thousands of times over.

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Within this "plastic-free" plan, supermarkets will be pushed to adopt plastic-less aisles.

Setting an example in the eradication of avoidable plastic waste, May said that the government would seek to reduce single-use plastics in its workplace and suggested that other large organizations should consider banning staff from using them in their workplace, as well. Microbeads will no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products, according to the ban.

"Respecting nature's intrinsic value and making sure we are wise stewards of our natural world is critical if we are to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. Through this plan we will build on our reputation as a global leader in environmental protection, creating an environment everyone can enjoy and helping the next generation flourish", said Gove. The UK plastics industry invented the global plastics industry and a whole pipeline of innovations, including the discovery of polyethylene, have made it a leading player in the global plastics industry.

Numerous measures due to be included in the speech have either already been formally announced by ministers or were briefed to the media ahead of the speech. "Whether it's ocean plastics, air pollution or climate change, there's a huge price to pay for every day that goes by without progress", said Leonie Cooper on the environment committee of the London Assembly - a body elected to hold the mayor's office to account.

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