23 JAN 2018

Coastal Scene Column - 19th January 2018

"Last week the Prime Minister formally launched the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan – which outlines steps for a cleaner, greener Britain – with avoidable plastic waste eliminated by the end of 2042. In my capacity as Environment Minister, it is a plan my colleagues and I have been working on for some time and I'm grateful to the Prime Minister for reappointing me last week, which will enable me to press on and help implement the plan. I am also incredibly proud of the global leadership the Prime Minister is showing to tackle this important issue.

Waste is choking our oceans, despoiling our landscapes, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and scarring our habitats. During the recent Great British Beach Clean Up– I saw first-hand in Aldeburgh the amount of litter that blights our landscape. The Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100 metre stretch of beach surveyed and of this, rubbish from food and drink made up at least one fifth. Which is why our plan outlines proposals to reduce our use of the plastics which contribute to pollution and also includes broader steps to encourage recycling and the more thoughtful use of resources.

Our plan will extend the hugely successful 5p carrier bag charge to all retailers in England; encourage supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles to give consumers the choice to make greener decisions; and promote the use of less damaging plastic packaging. The plan will also inject new funding into plastics innovation through a bid into the government's £7 billion research and development pot; encourage industry to take more responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products; and government will also look at how the tax system or charges could further reduce the amount of waste we create. A call for evidence on how to reduce the use of single-use plastics will begin next month.

It is the Government's mission to leave our environment in a better state than we found it – but improving the environment will take individual as well as collective action – our plan will guide each and all of us to do what is right."

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