The British PM's new environmental policy intends to eradicate plastic by 2042, but is it too little too late?
As the first speech on the environment in over 10 years from a British PM, May brought to light the horrifying reality of the attitude to sustainability in the UK and proposed new measures to tackle the ‘throw away’ culture that has been allowed to permeate UK society. The Prime Minister also speculated that future generations will look back on this time in shock at how we allowed so much needless plastic to be produced at a mass scale.
Roughly 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 50’s, which could easily become 34 billion tonnes by 2050 if we don’t start urgently tackling the situation.
May stated that in the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill the Royal Albert Hall 1000 times over.
Her solution? A brand new long-term strategy which will aim for Britain to wave goodbye to single use plastics by 2042, once and for all. The 5p bag charge introduced in 2015, which is currently in action across all major supermarkets and retailers, will be introduced to all retailers across the UK, whilst supermarkets will be urged to set up ‘plastic free aisles’ for goods with no packaging.
Yet whilst it’s positive to see the UK taking steps in the right direction and acknowledging the plastic crisis, are these measures really enough to tackle a situation that is already having a massive impact on the planet right now?
May’s plan, whilst welcomed by environmentalists, has also come under fire for its lack of real legislation and length timeframes.
"We are not really clear what legislation there will be to implement this plan. If you want to have a vision to not just protect the environment but improve it you need ambitious new laws to do that.” - Ben Stafford, head of campaigns at WWF, quoted from The Independent
And of course whilst it’s a positive that the British government is making plastic waste a priority, what about all of the other environmental issues not discussed – fracking, air pollution, food waste, and of course tackling the fact the country is still so heavily reliant on fossil fuels?
So whilst the UK is definitely taking (baby) steps in the right direction, we’re not doing a celebratory dance for the environment just yet. And even if policy is going to take its sweet time to get into gear, that doesn’t mean you can’t change your own habits as of, well, right now.