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.
- Nearly a quarter of a million people counted
6,437,813 pieces of plastic packaging waste in just
- 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
- 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.