On 11 January, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced a 25-year plan to "nurture" the environment, referring to it as a "national plan with international ambitions".
The Policy Paper titled “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment”, sets out goals and targets under environmental themes such as clean air, minimising waste, enhancing biosecurity and reducing the risks of harm from environmental hazards.
The primary focus of the plan has been centred around reducing plastic waste and has set the goal to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.
In addition, supermarkets will be urged to introduce "plastic-free" aisles while taxes and charges on single-use items such as takeaway containers will be considered.
However, the plan also focuses on more than plastic waste and other polices in the plan include:
· Cracking down on fly-tippers and waste criminals
· Publishing a Clean Air Strategy
· Minimising the risk of chemical contamination in our water
· Tackling climate change
· Helping primary schools create nature-friendly grounds
· Creating more green infrastructure
· Planting more trees in and around our towns and cities
In her speech, Theresa May said: "We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that, for example, dumping toxic chemicals into rivers was ever the right thing to do."
She called plastic waste "one of the great environmental scourges of our time", adding: "In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls."
The Policy Paper has received both a warm welcome and wide criticism for not going far enough.
The Independent lead with a headline asking whether the policy is ‘fundamentally flawed’ because it provides little in the way of legislation to back up ambition.
Others, such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) saw the 25-year plan as a potential turning point which would allow us to restore the environment rather continuing to destroy it.
Friends of the Earth's welcomed a long-term vision but called for urgent action now, and Greenpeace called for a detailed 25-month plan, rather than a 25-year vision.