From a “Latte Levy” to banning “single-use” plastic bags and microbeads, Great Britain leads the way in fighting plastic pollution.

microbeads, oregon state university plastic pollution


Banning Microbeads!

One of the world’s toughest bans on the use of Microbeads in cosmetics has come into effect. The tiny plastic beads that have been incorporated into face scrubs, shower gels and “whiter” toothpastes are now to be totally eliminated. This initiative will “stop billions of pieces of plastic entering our ecosystem, helping to protect our precious seas and oceans,” tweeted Prime Minister Theresa May.  (photo – Oregon State Univ.)

Microbeads cannot be filtered out of the water flow, eventually carrying them into rivers and the sea where they enter the marine food chain. “The world’s seas and oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life” said Therese Coffey, the Minister of Environment.

The microbead ban follows on Great Britain’s 5p surcharge on the use of “single-use” plastic bags that has been highly successful, taking nearly nine billion bags out of circulation.


“The Latte Levy”

latte levy, starbucks plastic pollutionBritish lawmakers are also considering a surcharge on plastic lined, disposable coffee cups. Starbucks has already announced that it has initiated such a charge at many of its London coffee shops to encourage customers to switch to reusable cups.

It has been estimated that there are 4 billion Starbucks’ To-Go cups discarded every year and mostly they end up in landfills or worse. In the UK, 99% of paper cups are not recycled or composted because although the cups are mostly made of paper, they are lined with plastic.


Plastic Bottles and Packaging the next to go?

A similar deposit/refund scheme or surcharge is being considered on plastic bottles. And there is hope for industry wide reforms in the use of non-biodegradable, plastic packaging materials.

A new documentary The War on Waste to be aired on BBC, features environmental activist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who describes alternatives like the Frugalpac and what he has discovered about why most people do not recycle.

By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network


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