Changes in public opinion, along with new restrictions on sending plastics to China (which previously took in 66 percent of the UK’s plastic waste), have forced businesses and government to reconsider traditional ways of dealing with discarded plastic.

1. Queen Elizabeth bans disposable plastic
Buckingham Palace has implemented a plan to phase out the use of disposable plastics at royal estates. The new waste plan calls for ending the use of plastic straws and bottles in public and private dining areas. Additionally, biodegradable takeaway containers will be introduced. The Queen was reportedly inspired after working on a wildlife film with Sir David Attenborough, whose recent involvement in the BBC series Blue Planet 2 has been praised for bringing greater attention to the issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

 2. Restaurants ditch plastic strawsThe photo shows a close-up of a clear plastic cup filled with a thick orange drink, with a large clear straw. In the background, out of focus, is the black counter of a café.(Image via Pixabay)

An increasing number of UK restaurants and pubs are joining the global movement to end the use of plastic straws. Chains such as Costa Coffee, Pizza Express, Wagamama restaurants, and Wetherspoons have all put plans into place to phase out the use of non-biodegradable drinking straws in 2018. A number of independent establishments have also followed suit, encouraging customers to forego the straw or use a biodegradable one.

 3. Scotland announces nationwide bansThe photo shows a bird's eye view of an old urban center, with castles and ornate houses made of brick and stone in gray and brown tones. Far in the background is the sea and a grayish sky.(Image via Pixabay)

While many companies and individuals have made great progress by phasing out plastic straws, the British nation of Scotland took it a step further by announcing plans for a countrywide ban on straws, which will be developed this year. This came on the heels of a previous announcement in January to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds, which will be phased out over the course of 2018.

4. The UK says no to microbeadsTiny colorful plastic fragments are scattered on a white surface, looking like tiny rocks. Some have a rounded surface, while others are more jagged.(Oregon State University/Flickr)

In January, a government ban on plastic microbeads officially went into effect. The miniature plastic particles are widely used in cosmetics, soaps, and toothpastes, and due to their small size, can slip through treatment plants and pollute rivers and lakes. The first phase of the ban prevents the plastics from being used in the making of cosmetics and cleaning products, followed by a complete sales ban in July. This law follows similar ones passed by the United States, Canada, and Ireland, as well as moves by global cosmetics companies to phase out the use of such products.

5. Supermarkets go plastic freeThe photo shows fruit and vegetable stands from above, in a variety of colors, inside a supermarket. The floor is brown, made up of square tiles. People are scattered around each stand picking products. In the edges of the photo are other aisles with more products.(Image via Pixabay)

In January the UK supermarket chain Iceland made headlines when it announced plans to eliminate plastic packaging for all Iceland branded products. The company released a five-year strategy that calls for introducing paper and pulp food containers, as well as paper bags, all of which can be returned to in-store recycling facilities. The company has already banned plastic straws and is beginning to introduce the new packaging over the next couple of months. Other companies such as Tesco and Aldi UK have announced similar plans, a response to increased demands from shoppers for environmental responsibility.


Beat Plastic Pollution is the theme of World Environment Day 2018. Are you ready to break-up with single-use plastic?