According to a Greenpeace poll, households in the UK discard approximately 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging each year.
Only 12% of the single-use packaging used by households is recycled, according to the findings of one of the largest voluntary research initiatives into the scope of plastic trash.
During one week in May, Greenpeace invited residents to count their plastic waste. Participating participants, representing over 100,000 households, submitted their findings to Greenpeace and related NGO Everyday Plastic.
Fruit and vegetable packing was by far the most prevalent type of food and drink packaging, accounting for 83 percent of all plastic trash.
There are no official statistics on how many plastic products are thrown away, even though the UK government releases data on the weight of plastic debris that is collected from houses. Therefore, it is believed that the research, known as the Big Plastic Count, offers a substantial perspective on the scope of single-use plastic packaging waste.
According to the Big Plastic Count, 6,437,813 pieces of plastic packaging waste were counted by 97,948 households in the UK. Over the course of a year, each home disposed of an average of 3,432 pieces of plastic packaging or 66 pieces per week.
The researchers claimed it could be reliably predicted that households waste away 1.85 billion pieces of plastic packaging a week, or 96.6 billion pieces a year, in the UK alone, assuming the weekly average is representative of every household in the country.
According to a ground-breaking report published in 2019, the spread of single-use plastics worldwide is hastening the climate emergency and must be immediately stopped. According to the Center for International Environmental Law‘s research, almost all plastic is made from fossil fuels and emits greenhouse gases at every stage of its lifecycle, including during production, refining, and waste management.
Chris Thorne, a plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said, “This is a jaw-dropping amount of plastic garbage and should give ministers pause for thinking.”
“Despite the public’s concern over the issue and efforts to recycle, just 12% of all this plastic is expected to end up being recycled in the UK. The remaining waste is turned into pollution either by landfilling, incineration, or export to other nations, slowly poisoning our water, food, and even the air we breathe.
A quarter of a million people, according to Everyday Plastic founder Daniel Webb, were inspired to participate in this amazing citizen science project. “[It] has enabled us to develop a distinctive image of the plastic problem and compile never-before-seen data,” he said. There is no time to waste; these new statistics make it clear that the government, major companies, and stores are responsible for addressing this situation.
The NGOs are requesting that the government adopt legally binding goals to almost completely eradicate single-use plastic, starting with a goal of a 50% reduction by 2025. By 2025, they seek to outlaw the export of plastic trash, beginning with an immediate prohibition on all exports to non-OECD members and mixed plastic garbage to OECD members. Additionally, they are urging the quick implementation of a deposit refund program.
Such a program has been promised by the government for years, and Michael Gove initially proposed it in 2018 when serving as environment secretary. However, the plan has been put off due to discussions and what appears to be official lethargy.
Thorne remarked, “Pretending we can sort this with recycling is merely industry greenwash. “We produce 100 billion pieces of trash plastic each year, yet recycling barely makes a dent in the problem. What else should the government know before taking action?
According to a government spokeswoman, extended producer responsibility (EPR), a deposit return system (DRS), and regular collections should be implemented as soon as possible in England. To that aim, we have consulted the public for input on potential timetables. Our response to the DRS and consistency consultations will be published shortly after we publish the government’s response to the packaging EPR consultation that was issued in March.
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