At present, plastic pollution is a frequently discussed topic in the news as scientific research finds microplastics in remote areas of the ocean, once-pristine landscapes, and in deep-sea fish. With rising concerns over the impacts of global plastic pollution on environmental and human health, many countries are taking steps to reduce plastic waste (FPF reported). Their efforts primarily focus on the use of single-use plastics, comprising various food contact items, which make up the majority of plastic litter (FPF reported).

In May 2016, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched the New Plastics Economy initiative to build a plastics system in line with circular economy principles together with major industry partners (FPF reported). On January 11, 2018, the UK government announced measures to eliminate all of the country’s avoidable plastic waste by 2042 (FPF reported). On January 16, 2018, the European Commission published its EU strategy for plastics in a circular economy (FPF reported). The strategy foresees actions on single-use plastics and the intentional use of microplastics.

Upon the announcements of government actions, many major businesses and institutions committed to making efforts to reduce plastic waste. UK supermarket Iceland declared to remove plastic packaging from all of its own-brand products by 2023 (FPF reported). Queen Elisabeth II supports the UK government’s plans and intends to phase-out single use plastics, such as straws, bottles, plates, and cups, from the royal estates. Similarly, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced to ban single-use plastics by 2020. UK railway company Eurostar International Ltd is looking into reducing the use of single-use plastic items on-board Eurostar trains by 50% by 2020. One of the largest music festivals in the world, Glastonbury Festival, located in the UK, is planning to ban the use of plastic bottles by 2019. Meanwhile, the UK government is considering to adopt a deposit-based bottle recycling system similar to schemes operating in Nordic countries, Germany, and certain states in the U.S. and Canada.

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Sandra Laville (February 12, 2018). “Microplastics pollute most remote and uncharted areas of the ocean.The Guardian

Lorraine Chow (February 9, 2018). “‘Plastic in all sizes’ found everywhere in once pristine European arctic.EcoWatch

Kevin O’Sullivan (February 19, 2018). “Over 70% of deep-sea fish have ingested plastic, study finds.The Irish Times

Lorraine Chow (February 19, 2018). “73% of deep-sea fish have ingested plastic.EcoWatch

Lorraine Chow (February 12, 2018). “The Queen declares war on plastic.EcoWatch

Plastics News (February 13, 2018). “Queen bans single-use plastic in new waste plans.

Plastics News (February 13, 2018). “No single-use plastic for the crown.

BBC (February 13, 2018). “BBC to ban single-use plastics by 2020 after Blue Planet II.

The Guardian (February 13, 2018). “BBC aims to be free of single-use plastics across all operations by 2020.

Plastics News Europe (February 16, 2018). “Eurostar aiming to cut plastics use by 50% by 2020.

Plastics News Europe (February 19, 2018). “UK major music festival to ban plastic bottles.

Roger Harrabin (February 7, 2018). “UK ‘could adopt’ Norway bottle recycling system.BBC