Citing Blue Planet II, UK Considers Tax on Single-Use Plastics

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Britain's Conservative government is expected to announce wide-ranging measures to tackle ocean plastic pollution.

The UK government is expected to announce today a broad set of measures designed to significantly reduce the consumption of single-use plastics, and thereby cut the amount of trash that's entering our waterways. According to a report in The Guardian, measures under consideration include a “call for evidence” on how taxes or other charges might be used to discourage the use of takeaway cartons and packaging, and whether or not this would lead to a reduced impact of litter on the marine environment. Additionally, The Guardian reports that the government is looking into ways to reduce littering of drinks containers like disposable coffee cups.

This is good news indeed. And it comes at a time when UK childcare centers are banning glitter, grocery stores are selling detergent bottles made from ocean plastic, and my Facebook feed is full of UK friends obsessed with the BBC's latest Blue Planet II, a show which has lead many viewers to pledge to reduce their own plastic consumption. Even Michael Gove—Secretary of State for the Environment—directly credits it as influencing his thinking on plastics:

Interestingly, the show hasn't just been responsible for capturing hearts and minds. The show's producers also took direct action while filming the series to leave the oceans a little bit better than they found them:

Having been a big fan of BBC Earth's nature programs for years—but having gotten frustrated at the fact they sometimes tiptoe around major issues like climate change—I hope this marks a shift in the balance between education and advocacy. Yes, some people tune in just to watch cool footage of seals, sharks and other creatures. But it's a missed opportunity if we don't use that engagement to inspire better stewardship of these wonders before it's too late.

Bravo to the BBC.

Bravo to the public who are pledging to cut their consumption.

And bravo to lawmakers if they finally step up and take real action to stop the fouling of our oceans.