United Kingdom plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042

Theresa May extends the 5p plastic bag charge to all shops

In a speech launching the Government's 25-year environmental plan, Theresa May will say that in future people will be "shocked" at how much plastic is being "needlessly" produced. Retailers with fewer than 250 employees are now exempted from the charge.

Sue Hayman, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "This plan, years behind schedule, is a cynical attempt at rebranding the Tories image and appears to contain only weak proposals with Britain's plastic waste crisis kicked into the long grass".

However, the BPF wants to emphasise the important benefits that the plastics industry brings to the United Kingdom, including 170,000 jobs, as well as the environmental advantages of utilising plastics, such as cutting fuel consumption, preventing food waste, reduced emissions and its place in the fight against climate change.

Greenpeace said the plastics plan "lacks urgency, detail and bite".

Ireland is now the top producer of plastic waste in Europe, producing 61kg of plastic waste per person each year.

"The UK will demonstrate global leadership".

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The UK government is planning to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the country within next 25 years.

Supermarkets have been encouraged to adopt plastic-free aisles, in which all the food is loose.

As part of the plan, the Government will extend the 5p carrier bag charge to all retailers in England.

The document said Whitehall and its agencies would lead the way in efforts to reduce the use of disposable plastic items by "removing all consumer single-use plastics from the central government estate offices".

She suggested fruit, vegetables and other fresh foods should be sold loose instead of in plastic packaging and said the United Kingdom government will work with supermarkets to encourage them to introduce plastic-free aisles in which all food is loose.

Pledging action at every stage, Mrs May said that she would "encourage manufacturers to take responsibility and rationalise the types of plastics they use".

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By leading the world in setting such a target for the end to plastic pollution, Mrs May will sat that the United Kingdom is "demonstrating global leadership [that] will also do more to help developing nations tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste, including through United Kingdom aid".

More than 220,000 people in the United Kingdom have signed a Change.org petition lobbying the government to force the country's retailers to cut out the use of plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables.

Speaking today, Green Party Senator Grace O'Sullivan called on the Government to rethink its position on the Bill and face up to the "massive challenge" of tackling plastic pollution.

Under the new proposals, people could receive 5p for every plastic bottle they return to the shops.

According to Government sources, the extension of the levy would be a matter for a consultation later this year, but that the ambition would be for all shops to be covered.

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