Michael Gove takes on the 'throwaway culture' of plastic bottle waste

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The British prime minister, Theresa May, has pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the United Kingdom by 2042.

She will warn that it is causing "immense suffering" to marine life, with 1 million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals and turtles dying after eating or getting tangled up in it.

The Government's strategy includes work with supermarkets to create "plastic-free aisles" in which all fruit and vegetables are sold loose rather than in containers.Environmental groups welcomed the move, but said it did not go far enough.

May is also expected to announce new funding into plastics innovation by inviting bids into the Government's £7billion research and development pot.

And the 5p plastic bag charge will now also be brought in for smaller shops, which were previously exempt.

She added: "As with any problem, the best solution is to get to the very source of it and stem the flow of plastic into our waste stream and into the environment". Much of this waste ends up in waterways and oceans, May said, with one in three fish caught in the Channel containing pieces of plastic.

I understand that the document will cover many policy areas, including: managing land sustainably; enhancing nature and recovering wildlife; increasing people's health and well-being through nature; resource efficiency, reduction of pollution and waste and protecting and improving the global environment.

In the United Kingdom alone, she will say, the amount of single-use plastic dumped each year would fill the Royal Albert Hall thousands of times over.

During its recent Great British Beach Clean Up of the United Kingdom, the Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100m stretch of beach surveyed, and of this, rubbish from food and drink made up at least one fifth.

Its chair, Ibrahim Dogus, said: "While we agree that more needs to be done to reduce the use of plastics, a tax isn't the right answer, as it will lead to increased costs for consumers and hurt the many small and independent businesses that make up the UK's takeaway sector".

"As it is produced, we will encourage manufacturers to take responsibility for the impacts of their products and rationalise the number of different types of plastics they use", she said.

At the Cabinet meeting, Mr Gove praised the results of a 5p plastic bag charge, which he said has resulted in a 90% decline in use, and promised a series of new initiatives on Thursday.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove told Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday he was "determined to tackle the throwaway culture which plastics encapsulate".

She said: "We will incorporate all existing European Union environmental regulations into domestic legalisation when we leave".

The Conservatives pledged to come up with the 25-year plan in 2015, and it is now.

"We will be responding to the government's consultation on what role the tax system can play in reducing single use plastics and will engage in the debate about reform of packaging waste regulation".