Reducing amount of plastic waste


In 2018, the BBC announced a plan to phase out the use of all disposable plastic food service items by 2020. Throwaway plastic cups and cutlery are due to disappear from BBC-operated cafeterias and commissaries by the end of the year and plastic to-go containers by 2019. The BBC is the world’s largest public broadcasting company with upwards of 21,000 employees. In total, 2 million single-use plastic cups are used and discarded by BBC employees and guests every year.

The UK government want all avoidable plastic waste disappear by 2042. Initiatives outlined in the plan include a potential tax on all plastic takeout containers and the creation of plastic-free aisles at British supermarkets.

An episcopal initiative in the USA called the "Lent Plastic Challenge" similarly implores followers to give up plastic packaging and single-use items found "polluting oceans and rivers, fouling beaches, killing wildlife and clogging landfills", much like they would red meat, chocolate, booze or Twitter.  In similar vein, the Church of England’s Environmental Programme has created a daily Lenten calendar that blends bible passages with helpful daily, if somewhat basic, tips on how to avoid or limit the consumption of plastic.  For example, the entry for Feb. 28 tasks church members with checking the labels of their personal care and bath products to see if they contain exfoliating polyethylene microbeads and, ideally, refrain from buying or using these products in the future. On March 11, the calendar asks churchgoers to contemplate their coffee cup habits. Other daily avoidables include over-packaged "convenience" foods, plastic kitchen storage containers, disposable cutlery, non-reusable produce and shopping bags, bottled water and wet wipes, which contain plastic fibers and usually aren’t flushable as advertised.

Scotland is poised to become the first European country to ban plastic straws.  It started in 2018 with replacement of single-use plastic sipping straws with paper straws at Scottish Parliament, where 4,000 of them were previously used.  It is hoped that the ban will become law by the end of 2019. The government also plans to phase out the sale of cotton swabs with plastic rods by the end of this year (the non-biodegradable remains of cotton buds are among the most prevalent forms of plastic pollution found on Scottish beaches).

Plastic pollution
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy