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The levy has led to a dramatic reduction in plastic use since it was introduced in England.
The levy has led to a dramatic reduction in plastic use since it was introduced in England.

British PM Gears Up to End "Throwaway Culture"

British PM Gears Up to End "Throwaway Culture"

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to declare war on the country's "throwaway culture" by demanding the 5 pence ($0.06) levy on plastic bags be extended from supermarkets to all shops.

The premier is to make a major speech on the environment on Thursday in which she will commit the government to a war on waste.

In her speech, May will spell out a 25-year plan for the environment that senior Whitehall sources claim will be a key moment in the government's attempt to regain the green agenda, Sky News reported.

She is expected to announce moves to close the exemption that means retailers with fewer than 250 employees do not need to charge customers for single-use plastic bags.

The levy has led to a dramatic reduction in use since it was introduced in England in October 2015.

Figures published last July showed that nine billion fewer bags had been used and that more than £66 million ($89 million) had been given by supermarkets to good causes from the 5p charge.

According to government sources, the extension of the levy would be a matter for a consultation later this year, but that the ambition would be for all shops to be covered.

The only exemptions for the extended 5p levy are likely to be some pharmacies and pet shops selling goldfish.

  Coffee Cup Levies

Also under examination is a call from the all-party Environmental Audit Committee of MPs last week for urgent action to curb the mountain of up to five billion disposable coffee cups dumped each year, almost none of which is recycled.

The committee has demanded a 25 pence ($0.33) "latte levy" on throwaway plastic coffee cups.

Experts have estimated the levy could raise £438 million ($592 million) and lead to a 30% reduction in the number of cups as more people carry their own.

The committee of MPs said the industry should be given five years to make the cups easy to recycle or face an outright ban.

Government sources have said ministers are open to the idea of a coffee cup charge, if evidence shows it would change behavior.Together, the two measures are intended to ensure that a greater proportion of the packaging used in the UK can be recycled.

 

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