British Environment secretary Michael Gove has been photographed entering Downing Street with a reusable cup.

Campaign groups welcomed the mug’s appearance after having sent the minister a bamboo reusable cup as a gift for Christmas.

Roberta Arbinolo, from the RethinkPlastic! coalition told META:

“We are delighted to see Mr. Gove with his new reusable cup. Single-use plastic items such as coffee cups and lids have a high potential to become plastic pollution. Switching to reusables is key, and it’s important for our leaders to set an example.”

The minister, who expressed his concerns about plastic waste after watching the BBC’s Blue Planet series, had previously been pictured on numerous occasions with throw-away cups from a nearby coffee shop.

 

 

In a letter accompanying their gift, RethinkPlastic! wrote that 16 billion disposable coffee cups are consumed and discarded in the EU each year and reminded Mr Gove that alongside important government policies there is much that individuals can do to tackle plastic pollution.

RethinkPlastic’s letter to Michael Gove

The combination of plastic and paper in the cups used by popular high street chains makes the cups difficult to recycle. At the moment just 1 in 400 cups is recycled in the UK and cups from all over the world find their way into seas and oceans

Twitter users welcomed Mr Gove’s decision to put his mug where his mouth was on plastic waste and called on others to follow his example:

 

 

British law makers have called for the introduction of a 25p (0.28€) ‘latte levy’ on all drinks sold in throw-away cups and campaigners have launched a petition to support the idea.

At the end of last year the EU agreed to boost recycling and cut waste, central elements of its aim to move Europe towards a ‘circular economy’ where resources are reused of recycled rather than being thrown away.

Earlier this week the EU’s Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger called for an EU-wide plastic tax to help fill the gap left by UK budget contributions following Brexit, a suggestion that was welcomed by RethinkPlastic! and other groups:

 

 

Noting that the cup pictured with Mr Gove wasn’t actually the same one sent by the campaign Group, Arbinolo added:

“What’s important is Mr Gove’s new commitment to reusable cups. Of course we are just a tad disappointed that he didn’t use the one we sent him. We just hope that one doesn’t go to waste!”