The Prime Minister said in her speech at London's Wetland Centre: "Today I can confirm that the United Kingdom will demonstrate global leadership".
In a speech at the London Wetland Centre, May promised to extend a 5 pence levy on plastic bags to smaller shops and hinted at similar new charges on single-use plastic containers used for takeaway food and drinks.
It will also aim to make sure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable, increase the collection and recycling of plastic packaging and increase the recycled content to drive demand for recycled plastic material.
The plan also encourages the development of "plastic-free supermarket aisles".
The premier underlined that single-use plastic waste was "ingested by dozens of species of marine animals and over 100 species of sea birds, causing vast suffering to individual creatures and degrading vital habitats".
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The Prime Minister described plastic waste as "one of the great environmental scourges of our time" as she launched a 25-year strategy to tackle the issue.
Two-thirds of all plastic packaging in Britain ends up being landfilled or burned, according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
However, the BPF wants to emphasise the important benefits that the plastics industry brings to the United Kingdom, including 170,000 jobs, as well as the environmental advantages of utilising plastics, such as cutting fuel consumption, preventing food waste, reduced emissions and its place in the fight against climate change. Our Environment Plan sets out how over the next 25 years we will radically reduce the waste that is choking oceans and rivers, cleanse our air of toxic pollutants and create new habitats for our most precious wildlife to thrive.
Earlier this week a government ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads came into force as part of efforts to reduce plastic pollution. "The Prime Minister's speech and the plan itself contain very little new material, mostly repeating and repackaging existing policies and previous announcements", she said. "And we have a responsibility to protect and enhance it", May said. "Working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we will bring together every "body, business and organisation" involved in the life-cycle of plastics to make the move from a throw away culture to one where resources are used over and over again".