[ Features ]

Author: Ross Butler
Written on: 11 June 2018
Last updated: 11 June 2018


Regulation, environment

Plastic pollution

Britain is leading the way in tackling certain plastic pollution

The war against plastic pollution is international, with many developing countries leading the way in areas such as banning plastic bags.

In Britain, both the state and private sector can claim to be world leaders in a number of specific areas:

Banning microbeads

Tiny particles of plastic present in toiletries that wash into the oceans and enter the food chain as toxic particles were banned in Britain earlier this year. The UK remains the only jurisdiction to outlaw the particles. Just three other countries are taking meaningful steps towards banning microbeads: US, Canada and Australia. The ban came into effect in January 2018 to plaudits from NGOs.

Read more here: World-leading microbead ban takes effect.

Plastic straws

The British government’s latest target are plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton ear buds. A proposed ban was announced in April, with the hope it will be effective this year. It would be the first ban of its kind in the world.

Already, many pubs and restaurants across the UK have replaced plastic straws with carboard based alternatives, like these suckers:


In another world-first, this time from the UK’s private sector, in April 2018, more than 40 British companies, covering 80% of supermarkets, signed up to an agreement to eliminate single-use plastic within seven years.

Family-owned retailer Iceland was the only major non-signatory, because it plans to remove all plastic from its branded products within 5 years.

And there’s more

If you want to know more about how Britain compares to other countries in its efforts to rid the world of plastic pollution, read this summary from our May Briefing.


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