People urged to take part in week-long plastic packaging count

Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic are running the survey to help push for action to tackle plastic waste.

28 March 2022

Households are being encouraged to count the plastic packaging they throw away in a week as part of a campaign to tackle waste.

The Big Plastic Count is being run by Greenpeace and non-profit organisation Everyday Plastic to highlight how much plastic waste is leaving UK homes, and to put pressure on the Government and retailers to fix the issue.

Individuals, families, schools, community groups and businesses are being encouraged to count their plastic packaging waste in the survey from May 16-22, record the different types they throw away and enter the information into the campaign website.

Each participant’s data will contribute to a national picture of how much plastic packaging is being binned and how much of it is recycled, and will also give them a chance to find out what is happening to their rubbish.

The survey is being launched as polling of 1,780 people by YouGov for Greenpeace UK shows more than four in five (81%) respondents want to see the Government introducing targets to reduce plastic waste.

The poll also shows that more than three-quarters (77%) of people recycle plastic products to reduce waste, but 75% do not know what happens to their recycling.

Everyday Plastic founder and director Daniel Webb collected every piece of his plastic waste for a year and, with the help of a scientific researcher, developed a methodology to calculate his personal plastic footprint.

Taking part in the survey will provide households and other participants with their footprint of what they are throwing away and how much of their plastic waste will be recycled, landfilled, incinerated or exported.

Mr Webb said: “Having counted my plastic waste for an entire year, I know exactly how powerful this investigation can be in helping to understand the true extent of the plastic problem.

“The Big Plastic Count is a simple yet impactful way to discover your household plastic footprint, whilst contributing vital evidence to push the Government for long overdue change.”

Chris Packham holding up plastic packaging
Wildlife expert and TV presenter Chris Packham is backing the campaign (Isabelle Rose Povey/Greenpeace/PA)

According to Greenpeace, the UK generated 5.2 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2018, enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times over.

The campaign groups aim to use the results of the Big Plastic Count to push the UK Government to bring in stricter policies to reduce plastic waste, including setting a target to reduce the UK’s single-use plastic by 50% by 2025.

They also want to see a ban on all plastic waste exports and implementing a deposit return scheme (DRS) for recycling and reuse of all drinks containers.

Greenpeace UK plastics campaigner Maja Darlington said: “The vast majority of us try to play our part in tackling the plague of plastic waste but without government policies that actually reduce packaging and improve recycling – rather than burning, burying or bundling it off to pollute other countries – we’ll continue to fight a losing battle.”

She urged people to take part in the survey to help push the Government into action.

The Big Plastic Count is backed by environmentalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, who said: “It’s ridiculous that we’re still swamped with plastic waste when it makes so many of us furious. The natural world can’t cope.

“We need to find out what’s really happening to plastic that’s supposedly recycled. I’ll be joining the Big Plastic Count and I’d urge you to do it too.”

– Registration has opened for the survey, and people can sign up for it here https://thebigplasticcount.com/

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