Survey shows ‘jaw-dropping’ volume of single-use plastic – and the power of citizen science 

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A major survey by Greenpeace has exposed ‘jaw-dropping’ volumes of single use plastics in British households. 

The survey, called the Big Plastic Count, was organised in partnership with the NGO Everyday Plastic and involved 250,000 people from almost 100,000 households across the UK, who were asked to carefully record plastic waste in their homes over the course of a week. 

The Big Plastic Count, staged during May, found that that 97,948 households across the UK counted 6,437,813 pieces of plastic packaging waste, with each participating household throwing away 66 pieces of plastic in a week. Nationally, this would equate to households throwing away 1.85 billion pieces of plastic packaging a week. 

Chris Thorne, plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, told The Guardian that the survey’s findings were “jaw-dropping”. He added: “Just 12% of all this plastic is likely to end up being recycled in the UK, despite the public’s alarm about the issue and efforts to recycle”.

The two NGOs want the Government to impose legally binding targets to virtually eliminate single-use plastic, starting with a target of a 50% cut in single-use plastic by 2025.

Daniel Webb, founder of Everyday Plastic, called the survey “an incredible piece of citizen science”. 

Main image: Less than 12% of plastic waste is sent for recycling in the UK. Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

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