The government’s ‘dysfunctional’ approach to preventing marine plastic pollution is unlikely to deliver any lasting improvements, according to the think tank Green Alliance.
Alarmingly, the pressure group believes legislation brought in by the government risks detracting from the wider need to improve the sustainability of resources used and cut waste across the country.
For example, the UK introduced a ban on microbeads in wash-off cosmetics in June 2018, which the government described at the time as ‘world-leading’. However, Green Alliance says this ban ignores 90% of the intentionally added microplastics that still pollute the environment.
Similarly, according to Green Alliance, the new ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds has pushed companies to substitute plastic for other materials in these products, without reducing their single-use nature.
The new Environment Bill is also criticised for introducing powers to implement charges for single-use plastic items along the lines of the 5p carrier bag charge. But as the Bill currently stands, charges for single-use items made from other materials will not be possible.
The report, which you can read here, explains why a plastic-only approach is not working and says that the whole system of resource use and management needs a ‘fundamental rethink’ to prevent environmental harm.
Libby Peake, head of resource policy at Green Alliance, said: ‘Removing one material from a dysfunctional system still leaves us with a dysfunctional system. Plastic pollution is a particularly visible sign that we don’t properly value the resources we use and shows that environmental harm is hardwired into the throwaway culture.
‘The government has to get to the root of the problem to change this, rather than only tackling high profile symptoms in a piecemeal way.’
Last month, a petition signed by over 300,000 people which demands tougher government action on plastic pollution was handed into 10 Downing Street (February 26), by Friends of the Earth and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI).