BBC director general Tony Hall said the decision had been taken after the TV series Blue Planet II highlighted the scale of ocean plastic pollution. Hall said he had been “shocked” by the plastic waste featured in last year’s nature documentary. narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

“Like millions of people watching Blue Planet II, I was shocked to see the avoidable waste and harm created by single-use plastic,” Hall said.

“We all need to do our bit to tackle this problem, and I want the BBC to lead the way.”

Have I Got Reuse for You

Plastic cups and cutlery will be scrapped by the end of 2018, a move which is expected to displace more than two million plastic cups used by BBC visitors and staff each year.

Plastic containers will be removed from canteens by 2019. The phase-out will start at the BBC’s department in Salford this month, where the broadcaster is also going to be trialling a coffee cup recycling scheme.

Any new contracts which come up for tender will also include a requirement to cut single-use plastic.

The pledge was announced last night live on air on the One Show programme, following an investigative segment from environmental journalist Lucy Siegle which scrutinised the recent plastic commitments made by British supermarkets.

Iceland has committed to become the world’s first major retailer to remove plastic packaging from its own brand products by 2023. The likes of CostaAsda, McDonalds and Waitrose have either reiterated or strengthened commitments to reducing plastic use in recent weeks.

Policymakers have also been making headway. The Scottish Government could introduce a ban on plastic straws as early as next year, it has been reported this week.

The war on plastic waste has even been taken up by the Royal Family. Earlier this week, new measures were introduced at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, which will see internal caterers only allowed to use china plates and glasses, or recyclable paper cups.

George Ogleby

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