UK leader vows Brexit won't weaken environmental standards

British Prime Minister Theresa May walks away to leave after speaking at the launch of her 25-year environment plan at the London Wetland Centre in south west London, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Britain's prime minister has announced a 25-year plan to improve the country's environment and eliminate plastic waste, promising that leaving the European Union won't mean lower environmental standards

LONDON — Britain's prime minister has announced a 25-year plan to improve the country's environment and eliminate plastic waste, promising that leaving the European Union won't mean lower environmental standards.

Goals unveiled Thursday include eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042 and extending a five-pence (seven-cent) charge for plastic bags to all stores.

Prime Minister Theresa May described plastic waste, much of which ends up in the seas, as "one of the great environmental scourges of our time."

Brexit opponents worry that Britain will weaken environmental standards once it leaves the EU in 2019.

But May says all existing EU environment regulations will be incorporated into U.K. law, and "Brexit will not mean a lowering of environmental standards."

Green Party lawmaker Caroline Lucas said the announcements were welcome but didn't go far enough.

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