This could be a major step forward in combating plastic pollution.
I got excited when a UK airport, ferry company and several restaurant chains took action on plastic drinking straws. Then the Queen started banning straws too, and it really started to feel like a movement.
Now the BBC reports that UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove—who previously mulled steps like a tax on single use plastics—is dropping strong hints that plastic drinking straws might get banned from the country entirely. Interestingly, Gove sought to frame a potential ban as one of the upsides of Brexit, suggesting that the UK will now have more latitude to go it alone on necessary legislation. This lead to a prompt response from his European Union counterpart, however:
.@michaelgove One step ahead of you. EU legislation on single-use plastics coming before the summer. Maybe you can align with us? #EUDoesntSuck #StrongerTogether #PlasticsStrategy https://t.co/hbBBXT1eGa— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) February 23, 2018
Regardless of who is right, and what your feelings are on Brexit itself, I am personally delighted if Europe and the UK get into an arms race over who can ban single-use plastics the fastest. Because while individual action and corporate social responsibility efforts are laudable, it's only at the policy level that we can really eliminate harmful items like plastic straws from the environment.
It's already pretty incredible how quickly the issue has risen up the environmental agenda.
Let's just hope that this momentum can continue.