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UK declares war on plastic waste

Staff Writer |
Prime Minister Theresa May announced a 25-year environmental plan to dramatically reduce plastic waste.

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In a speech at the London Wetland Centre, May promised to extend a 5 pence levy on plastic bags to smaller shops and hinted at similar new charges on single-use plastic containers used for takeaway food and drinks.

"In 2015, we introduced the 5 pence charge on plastic carrier bags, we now see 9 billion fewer bags being used," said the premier, who signalled the move last week.

"In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly," she went on to say, adding that much of the plastic waste ended up in waterways and oceans.

"Today I can confirm that the U.K. will demonstrate global leadership. We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates."

Other initiatives include a plan to urge supermarkets to introduce aisles without any plastic packaging, where all food is sold loose, along with new research funding for "plastics innovation" and aid to help developing nations deal with their plastic waste.

"Britain has always been a world leader in understanding and protecting the natural world... And we have a responsibility to protect and enhance it," May said.

The premier underlined that single-use plastic waste was "ingested by dozens of species of marine animals and over 100 species of sea birds, causing immense suffering to individual creatures and degrading vital habitats".

"One million birds, and over 100,000 other sea mammals and turtles die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste."

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