It is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans by 2050.

"One of the great environmental scourges of our time" is how British Prime Minister Theresa May today described plastic waste polluting the sea.

Britain has now pledged to eradicate "avoidable plastic waste" by 2042.

Avoidable plastic waste is a term used by industry to describe products such as plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, drink bottles and most food packaging.

Supermarkets are also being encouraged to introduce plastic-free aisles where all the food is loose.

Ireland, too, has been rethinking waste and single-use packaging.

Every day, two million throwaway coffee cups are sent to landfill in Ireland.

Last November, a spokesperson confirmed that Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten was examining the possible introduction of a levy on non-recyclable single-use cups, similar to the plastic bag levy.

A levy of at least 15c was thought necessary in order to effect behavioural change.

Legislation banning the use and manufacture of microbeads is expected to be passed in the Dáil by the end of the year, the CEO of the Marine Institute in Galway Dr Peter Heffernan said on RTÉ's Morning Ireland today.

Microbeads are tiny plastic balls found in some soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs. They can enter the sea, and be swallowed by fish and birds.

The plastic bag levy was introduced in Ireland in 2002. Before the levy, the Government had estimated that 1.2 billion plastic bags were being given out free every year.

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