The BBC will ban single-use plastics from its operations by 2020, in the wake of its landmark series Blue Planet II which highlighted plastic pollution in the oceans.
Plastic cups and cutlery will be removed across BBC sites by the end of 2018, ending the use of around two million plastic cups used by visitors and staff each year, the corporation said.
Some sites have already begun to remove plastic cups from kitchens and replace them with glasses where possible, and this will be rolled out to all BBC offices.
There are plans to remove plastic containers from canteens by 2019, starting with a pilot in Salford in February, where a coffee cup recycling scheme will also be trialled.
And discussions will take place over the coming months with suppliers and services to assess when further changes can be made to cut single-use plastic in other parts of operations such as coffee cups, packaging of products the corporation buys and catering on location.
The BBC aims to be free of single-use plastic across its operations by 2020.
Last year’s high-profile nature documentary Blue Planet II highlighted the damage plastic pollution is doing to the world’s oceans and their wildlife, killing and harming species such as albatrosses and whales.
It helped drive awareness of the issue of marine plastic pollution, with companies, organisations and politicians increasingly taking action to tackle the problem, from cutting out drinking straws to rolling out water fountains to refill bottles.
Tony Hall, BBC director general, said: “Like millions of people watching Blue Planet II, I was shocked to see the avoidable waste and harm created by single-use plastic.
“We all need to do our bit to tackle this problem, and I want the BBC to lead the way.
“Scrapping throwaway plastic cups and cutlery is the first step, and with our plan I hope we can have a BBC free of single-use plastic altogether.”
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “The BBC are already a bit of a hero amongst those of us worried about the millions of tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, as their Blue Planet II series did as much to raise awareness of this issue as years of campaigning.
“But awareness raising is only step one, so it’s really encouraging to see them moving on to taking action.”
She also praised the corporation’s two-year timetable for phasing out single-use plastics, compared to Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to
eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years.