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Single-use plastic plates and cutlery, and polystyrene cups will be banned in England under government plans, as it seeks to reduce the plastic polluting the environment.

A public consultation will launch in the autumn and the ban could be in place in a couple of years. The move was welcomed by campaigners, but they said overall progress on cutting plastic waste was “snail-paced”, with the EU having banned these items and others in July.

The average person uses 18 throwaway plastic plates and 37 single-use knives, forks and spoons each year, according to ministers, while the durability of plastic litter means it kills more than a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles every year around the world.

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The impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water, scientists have found.

The research is the first of its kind and examined the impact of bottled water in Barcelona, where it is becoming increasingly popular despite improvements to the quality of tap water in recent years.

Research led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that if the city’s population were all to drink bottled water, this would result in a 3,500 times higher cost of resource extraction than if they all drank tap water, at $83.9m (£60.3m)a year.

Researchers also found the impact of bottled water on ecosystems is 1,400 times higher than tap water.

The authors concluded that the reduction in environmental impacts more than offset the small risk of bladder cancer associated with drinking tap water. The process of treating drinking water generates low levels of trihalomethanes (THM), which have been associated with a higher risk of bladder cancer. THM levels in drinking water are regulated in the EU.

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In the future, your vanilla ice cream may be made from plastic bottles. Scientists have figured out a way to convert plastic waste into vanilla flavoring with genetically engineered bacteria, according to a new study.

Vanillin, the compound that carries most of the smell and taste of vanilla, can be extracted naturally from vanilla beans or made synthetically. About 85% of vanillin is currently made from chemicals taken from fossil fuels, according to The Guardian.

Vanillin is found in a wide variety of food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, cleaning and herbicide products, and the demand is "growing rapidly," the authors wrote in the study. In 2018, the global demand for vanillin was about 40,800 tons (37,000 metric tons), and it's expected to grow to 65,000 tons (59,000 metric tons) by 2025, according to the study, published June 10 in the journal Green Chemistry.

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