One of the most exciting areas of development in Government policy over the past six months has been our increasingly assertive attitude towards improving our environment.
Last week we had an excellent announcement from the Prime Minister on plans to substantially reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce. We will reduce our demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates.
Already we have seen how simple measures can have a big effect. The 5p charge on supermarket plastic bags that the Government introduced in 2015 has seen us use 9 billion fewer plastic bags. And the recent banning of microbeads will have a hugely beneficial impact on marine wildlife which has been poisoned by them.
No one who has seen the footage of the vast swathes of plastic refuse in the Pacific Ocean can have been left unmoved. Too often with environmental concerns out of sight means out of mind, so the effect of programmes such as Blue Planet II which have brought these images into our lives cannot be overstated.
Whilst the amount of plastic waste we generate here in the UK is a tiny consideration next to, say, the Chinas and the Indias of this world, where Britain leads in setting environmental standards it is very likely that others will follow. The great economies of east Asia border the Pacific and rely on its waters for their fish and commerce, they too will need solutions to the plastic problem.
We need to help British companies be at the forefront of this revolution, designing biodegradable bioplastics – ideally ones which are water soluble – will help our economy reap the rewards of this global shift to more sustainable packaging.
This is just the latest in a stream of government policies which are seeking to ensure that ours is the first generation since the industrial revolution to hand on a healthier, cleaner world than the one we inherited. By looking to what we can do in the here and now to help the forever after, we have the opportunity to work with business to make Britain green. www.alexburghart.org.uk