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British Parliament has announced plans to ban plastic water bottles and introduce a so-called “latte levy,” a small charge on takeaway coffee cups within Parliament buildings, starting this summer! The radical measures aim to “virtually eliminate plastics” from the estate and create the “world’s first plastic-free Parliament” that will effectively eliminate 75,000 single-use coffee cups and 125,000 plastic bottles a year.

“Parliament’s action stands in stark contrasts to ministers who consult, announce and re-announce but never seem to do anything to turn back the plastic tide,” said Mary Creagh, the Labour MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, who has been leading the charge for a latte levy, The Independent reports. Creagh welcomed the move as an “important step to creating the world’s first plastic-free Parliament.”

According to the plans, in just a couple of months, Parliament will stop the purchase of all non-recyclable coffee cups and will replace them with a compostable, environmentally-friendly alternative. For a trial period, a 25 pence charge will be added to hot drinks served in the new cups. Authorities hope that the charge will lessen the disposable cups’ popularity in the long run. They will also add more water dispensers and fountains to help stop the sale of bottled water.

“Our aim is to remove, as far as possible, disposable plastic items from the Parliamentary estate,” said Sir Paul Beresford, the Conservative MP and chair of the Administration Committee, which recommended the proposal for the Commons. “Our challenging targets reflect Parliament’s commitments to leading the way in environmental sustainability.”

Lord Laming, Chair of the House of Lords Services Committee, said that the Parliament had acknowledged the damaging effect of disposable plastics and that it must now “lead the way in valuing our environmental future over convenience.”

“This review has taken a holistic approach to plastic reduction, considering everything from disposable cutlery to packaging,” he said. “The House of Lords has already substituted plastic straws with compostable paper ones, and eliminated plastic condiment sachets: I am delighted that Parliament will now be going much further to reduce the impact we make on the environment.”

According to authorities, the House of Commons will now follow the Lords and also discontinue condiment packets, which adds up to around 335,000 little sachets a year. Plastic bags will also be phased out and replaced by paper ones in shops on the estate.

“We all have a responsibility in this so it’s time to really start to think about the steps everyone can take to reduce their plastic use and I hope that the measures Parliament will implement over the next 12 months will inspire other organizations and people to make changes in their everyday lives,” Laming added.

The measures announced by the parliamentary authorities are exactly the kind of example that should be set by world governments. Every year, over 8.8 million tons of plastic waste enter the oceans, threatening marine life and compromising the overall health of the oceans. We all rely on the planet’s oceans to stabilize our environment, so we all need to pitch in and help reduce plastic waste.

We can help make a difference by using as little disposable plastics as possible – to find out how, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: derwiki/Pixabay

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