TORY policy towards the environment is more sophisticated than it was 30 years ago when a joint litter pick by Margaret Thatcher and Richard Branson – one of the more bizarre Prime Ministerial photo-calls – was deemed to be radical.
Now the debate is far more nuanced with Theresa May announcing plans to extend the 5p charge on carrier bags to all shops while encouraging supermarkets to designate ‘plastic-free aisles’ where items are not pre-packaged.
In a month that has seen calls for a so-called 25p latte levy on disposable cups, and Sir David Attenborough’s landmark Blue Planet II series on the marine environment leading to public pressure to reduce use of plastics in everyday society, the Prime Minister’s foresight is welcome.
After all, the initial carrier bag charge has succeeded in changing consumer behaviour, in spite of initial scepticism, and the tide of public – and political – opinion is clearly turning in favour of the environment and the moral duty of each and every citizen to do their bit to safeguard the planet for future generations.
Though Environment Secretary Michael Gove led by example, carrying a reusable coffee cup as he arrived at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Mrs May should use today’s landmark policy speech to not only inspire a new culture of recycling, but place an added onus on take-aways and fast food outlets to curtail the waste generated by their premises.