UK – The UK government through Prime Minister Theresa May has announced new plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, plastic drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in fresh war against plastic pollution.

The announcement came before the Prime Minister met the Commonwealth leaders in London with an intention for them to sign-up the newly-formed Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance.

During the conference, Commonwealth countries pledged to eliminate avoidable single use plastic, countries like New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana joining the UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance.

The ban, set to come into effect later in the year was along a US$75.35 million commitment to boost global research into plastic pollution and its solutions by the Prime Minister.

This forms a series of policies the UK is putting in place to tackle environmental waste and oceanic pollution.

This includes plans to launch a public tax consultation and the deposit-return scheme on all plastic, glass and metal drink containers, at the same time involving innovation schemes and new technologies in plastic recycling.

“The UK government is a world leader on this issue, and the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and micro-bead ban,” said May.

“Today we have put forward ambitious plans to further reduce plastic waste from straws, stirrers and cotton buds.”

“The Commonwealth is a unique organization, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments and coastlines.

Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.”

To deliver on its 2040 strategy to abolish all plastic waste, the government banned the use of micro-beads and implemented a 5p plastic bag charge, reported to have led to the distribution of 9 billion fewer bags.

“It is vital we act now. Single-use plastics are a scourge on our seas and lethal to our precious environment and wildlife,” said Environment Secretary, Michael Gove.

Move to eliminate plastic waste has been picked up by retailers and restaurants for example Iceland who pledged to eliminate plastic from own-brand products by 2025.

While the supermarket chain Ekoplaza opened the world’s first plastic-free aisle, McDonald’s promised to discontinue use of plastic straws in all of its UK restaurants.

Innova Market Insights report that 58% of globally launched food and beverage products are packaged in plastic, a 5% increase from 2013, while 96% of all newly launched water products in 2017 were contained within PET bottles.

Strategies to create circular plastic have been boosted by research that found a PET-digesting enzyme, engineered by UK and US scientists.