Cameron rewards creator of the Plastic Challenge with government award

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Photo Credit: Marine Conservation Society

Emily Smith, 26, a marine environment conservationist who created the Plastic Challenge to raise awareness of the harmful impact of plastics on the oceans has won the Points of Light Award today.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Emily’s Plastic Challenge has inspired people up and down the country to cut back on the amount of plastic they use and has raised awareness of the positive impact they can have on the oceans. I’m delighted to name her the 168th UK Point of Light.”

The Points of Light award recognizes outstanding individuals who make a positive impact in their community and inspire others.

Emily Smith, a volunteer with Marine Conservation Society, started the Plastic Challenge last year. According to Marine Conservation society, being frustrated with the large amount of plastic litter that she encountered in the beach cleaning drives, she gave up single-use plastics and started the ‘Plastic Challenge’. Later her initiative received backing from MCS.

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Photo Credit: flickr, Creative Commons

The 2013 Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch survey found over 48 single use plastic bags for every km of beach surveyed.

Richard Harrington, Communications Manager at 
Marine Conservation Society said: “The amount of plastic litter on our beaches and in the sea is increasing, and with it the threat to marine life.”

Harrington added: “During a single weekend in September 2013, we removed 223,405 pieces of litter on UK beaches – 2,309 items of litter found for every kilometre cleaned, and the highest in the history of our survey.”

Last year, Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced his government’s commitment to bring in a 5p bag charge on single use bags. This move was said to have been prompted by the ministers concern over the environmental impact of the bags, particularly waterborne animals.   However, this charge will come into effect only after the 2015 elections.

In the meantime, Surfers Against Sewage reports, an estimated 14.7 billion single use thin gauge plastic bags would have been given out in England.

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