BBC to ban single-use plastic by 2020

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 13 February 2018

Blue Planet II has inspired the corporation that made it to ban single-use plastic. The BBC says it will remove all single-use plastic from it’s operations in three stages between now and 2020.

Tony Hall, the BBC’s Director-General, said: “Like millions of people watching Blue Planet II, I was shocked to see the avoidable waste and harm created by single-use plastic. We all need to do our bit to tackle this problem, and I want the BBC to lead the way. Scrapping throwaway plastic cups and cutlery is the first step, and with our plan I hope we can have a BBC free of single-use plastic altogether.”

Several BBC sites have already begun to remove plastic cups from kitchens and replace with glasses wherever possible.

The second two stages of the corporations plan will involve plastic containers being removed from canteens by 2019 starting with a pilot at it’s complex in Media City, Salford this month. A coffee cup recycling scheme is also being trialled in Salford.

The aim is to have a single-use plastic free BBC by 2020. Discussions will take place over the coming months with current suppliers and services to assess when further changes can be introduced, cutting the amount of single-use plastic in other parts of our operations such as coffee cups, packaging of products it buys and catering on location.

The corporation says that any new contracts which come up for tender will also include the requirement to cut single-use plastic.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer says this is great news in the fight against single-use plastic: “Each of these actions helps to keep the problem of plastic pollution high on the agenda and will hopefully have a domino effect as more and more people, companies and groups realise that so much plastic is unnecessary and that it is easy to either not use an item or find a reusable alternative.”

Blue Planet II attracted global attention in highlighting the long-term, damaging impact single-use plastic is having on the world’s oceans and environment.

BBC One has commissioned a 90 minute special with science and wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin setting out to reveal the full scale of the world’s plastic problem and explore ways in which science can offer a solution.

“The statistics from our beach cleans make the scale of the problem very clear, with around 70% of litter on our beaches being made of plastic and on the go items such as straws , cups and stirrers making up over 20% of all litter,” says Dr Kinsey.

“What is needed now, together with these type of individual actions like this one by the BBC, is for coordinated Government action to bring in such systems as deposit refund systems for all drinks containers, plastic , glass and aluminium, mandate for a minimum recycled content in plastic products, ban polymers such as black plastic and polystyrene and introduce a proper extended producer responsibility system within the UK , where the producers properly pay for the end of life collection and recycling of their products instead of the system that operates at the moment where tax payers pick up the majority of the bill.”

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  2. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

On UK beaches levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK