What’s going on here? 

The UK government has set out plans to ban the sale of certain single-use plastics. This includes items such as plastic cutlery, plates, and polystyrene trays. The ban is set to come into effect by October 2023.

What does this mean?

The environmental impact of plastic pollution is well understood. Plastic pollution is so pervasive that it has been found on the highest mountains and in the deepest oceans. Not only is it polluting our environment but 2022 saw the discovery of microplastics in human blood for the first time.

The UK government’s ban on single-use plastics in England seeks to prevent some forms of plastic from polluting the environment. It is estimated that 1.1 billion plates and 4.25 billion items of cutlery are consumed in England each year, about 10% of which is recycled. Takeaway food and drink items make up the largest proportion of waste litter in the world’s oceans, so the new legislation appears to be well targeted.

Why should we care? 

On the surface, this policy appears to be a win in terms of sustainability and environmental preservation: a reduction in the amount of plastic  entering the natural environment. But the scope of the changes remains too narrow when considering the breadth of the problem that plastic pollution presents. For instance, the ban does not apply to supermarkets and shops.

The new policy also fails to properly address trends seen in terms of plastic production. The petrochemical industry is expected to offset the costs of investments into renewable energy by scaling up the production of plastics. Such action can only be seen as burden shifting. When considering that virtually every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists in some form, the scale of action required can’t be overstated.

Be Curious! 

Photo by 岁月 如歌 on Unsplash

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