In May, I took part in the Big Plastic Count, joining thousands of others across the UK in submitting our results and helping to form an action plan on what needs to happen next to tackle plastic pollution.

The Big Plastic Count is a joint initiative by organisations Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic, where participants count up every single piece of plastic they use in a week.

The BPC have now released their results from across the country in a full report. The results are stark:

Key findings:

  • Nearly a quarter of a million people counted
    6,437,813 pieces of plastic packaging waste in just
    one week.
  • On average, each household threw away 66 pieces
    of plastic packaging in one week, which amounts to
    an estimated 3,432 pieces a year.
  • If the totals for count week are assumed to be
    typical, this indicates that UK households are
    throwing away an estimated 1.85 billion pieces a
    week, or 96.57 billion pieces a year.
  • The most commonly counted items were fruit and
    vegetable packaging (1.02 million pieces), closely
    followed by snack bags, packets and wrappers
    (1.01 million pieces), illustrating how difficult it is
    for shoppers to avoid packaging when purchasing
    these products.
  • Only 12% of this plastic waste is likely to be
    recycled at reprocessing facilities in the UK. More
    of the UK’s plastic waste (17%) is being shipped
    overseas than being recycled at home.
  • Almost half of the UK’s household plastic packaging
    waste (46%) is likely being incinerated, whilst the
    remaining 25% is buried in landfill.
  • 62% of the pieces of plastic recorded in the count
    are either not collected or poorly collected for
    recycling by UK local authorities, and likely to end
    up in landfill or incinerated.

My tally for the week is in the picture below. I try very hard to recycle as much as I can and to limit buying single use plastic packaged products, but sometimes it seems unavoidable – contact lenses packets for example. Despite this, I’m still staggered at how much plastic I used up in a single week.

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