UK government launches environment plan

Ambitious plans for a greener future have been outlined by UK prime minister Theresa May and environment secretary Michael Gove, including a pledge to eliminate avoidable waste.

In a major speech last week (11 January), the prime minister launched the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, setting out how it will improve the environment over a generation by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality and curbing the scourge of plastic in the world’s oceans.

Among other things, A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment sets out how over the next quarter of a century the government will crackdown on plastics by eliminating all avoidable plastic waste through extending the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers, removing consumer single use plastics from the government estate, supporting the water industry to significantly increase water fountains and working with retailers on introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles.

Environment secretary Michael Gove says, “Respecting nature’s intrinsic value and making sure we are wise stewards of our natural world is critical if we are to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.

“Our Environment Plan sets out how over the next 25 years we will radically reduce the waste that is choking oceans and rivers, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants and create new habitats for our most precious wildlife to thrive.

“Through this plan we will build on our reputation as a global leader in environmental protection, creating an environment everyone can enjoy and helping the next generation flourish.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomed the plan. Helen Munday, chief scientific officer, comments, “FDF and its members welcome the launch of Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan and its long-term commitment to clean sustainable economic growth. We look forward to studying the details of the plan, and hope that it will sit alongside the Industrial Strategy in the creation of a long-term framework in which businesses can operate. It’s pleasing to note that the prime minister remains committed to an evidence-based approach to establishing the best way to deal with plastic waste and will consult widely.

“The food and drink manufacturing industry has an essential interest in protecting and enhancing the natural environment because of its reliance on a continuous, adequate supply of safe, high quality raw materials.

“FDF strongly supports initiatives to reduce waste throughout the food and drink value chain and to increase resource efficiency. We have also been working with our members to better understand and protect natural capital, including the protection of Britain’s countryside.”

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