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BBC bans single-use plastics after Blue Planet II puts pollution problem in spotlight

The David Attenborough wildlife series has inspired the BBC to go completely free of single-use plastic by 2020

Published: Wednesday, 14th February 2018 at 10:45 am

Following Blue Planet II’s moving look at the impact of plastic pollution last year, the BBC has announced that it is curbing its use of the material.


Currently, visitors and staff across BBC sites get through 2 million plastic cups each year, but the broadcaster now says it is aiming to scrap plastic cups and cutlery by the end of this year and go completely free of single-use plastic by 2020.

Tony Hall, BBC 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.”

Blue Planet II highlighted the effects of the eight million tonnes of plastic that end up in the world’s seas and oceans each year, most memorably with a stirring speech from presenter David Attenborough and a sequence where a sperm whale grieved over its offspring killed by plastic pollution (see above).

The BBC isn’t the only ones to respond to this footage, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying the series was “public service broadcasting at its finest” and pledging to tackle plastic waste.

When asked by about the growing conservation movement at the NTAs earlier this year, Attenborough said: “Well, it makes one think that that’s a job worth doing. It wasn’t trivial, it’s important, and people are taking notice, and I’m glad they are because it is a big problem.”


To further highlight the issue, BBC1 has commissioned a 90-minute special – presented by wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin – revealing the full scale of the world’s plastic problem.


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