Plastic doesn’t have the royal stamp of approval anymore. Queen Elizabeth II recently banned plastic straws and bottles on royal estates with the goal of reducing plastic use. The Independent and The Telegraph quoted a Buckingham Palace spokesperson as saying “there’s a strong desire to tackle this issue” of plastic among the royal household.
Some people think the Queen has taken an interest in the plastic problem after working on a conservation documentary with broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough, who recently discussed the particular dilemma of ocean plastic in Blue Planet II – a heartrending clip from the show revealed a mother pilot whale who carried around her dead baby likely poisoned by plastic.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Julian Kirby told The Telegraph, “Blue Planet’s reach now extends to the Royal households and shows how much momentum is building behind the war on plastic pollution.”
The Queen is tackling plastic use in multiple ways. Buckingham Palace spoke of new waste plans, including measures to phase out straws in public cafes and ban them completely in staff dining rooms. Takeaway food products from Royal Collection cafes will now have to have biodegradable or compostable packaging. Internal caterers at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse will only be able to utilize china glasses and plates, as well as recyclable paper cups, per The Telegraph.
The Telegraph reported Buckingham Palace is going through a 10-year, £369 million – or around $510 million – refurbishment with a goal of improving energy efficiency in the royal residence. Electrical cabling and heating systems that haven’t been updated since just after World War II will be replaced. Solar panels will line the roof and an anaerobic digestion unit will create biogas from waste.
Buckingham Palace has a web page devoted to the environment, which says the royal household “is working hard across operations in the Royal Palaces and Estates to reduce its impact on the environment, using everything from energy efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting to hydro-electricity generating plants to ensure efficient running of its sites.”