In an innovative and citizen engaging move, thousands of people in the UK will count their plastic waste for a week in a national survey to figure out how much they consume.
Around 140,000 people across the UK are expected to participate in this survey. The count, put together by the organisation Everyday Plastic and Greenpeace, starts today. The aim of the project is to generate a national picture of plastic waste to demonstrate the scale of the problem, informing people what happens to their waste when they dispose of it.
Only the US uses more plastic per person per year than the UK, research suggests.
“Our broken recycling system doesn’t work, so instead of dealing with our plastic ourselves we send vast quantities of it overseas where it’s out of sight and out of mind for us, but destroying nature and harming people everywhere,” said Environmentalist Chris Packham, who is leading this campaign said in a report.
Government figures suggest that UK households recycled 44% of their waste in 2020.
But some plastics put in recycling bins goes to landfill or incinerators, or is even sent abroad where it can be dumped instead. In 2020 BBC News uncovered mountains of plastic waste sent from the UK to Turkey.
The campaign is also pushing for radical action by the government and supermarkets to reduce how much plastic is produced and to improve recycling rates.
In a report by Sky News, Chris Thorne, plastic campaigner at Greenpeace UK, added the count will be “the biggest-ever investigation into the UK’s plastic waste” and that they are delighted so many have signed up.
Everyday Plastic founder Daniel Webb counted his plastic for a year in 2017, filling 40 bin bags with waste.
“This experience changed my life and changed how I understood the problem. Then I thought, what if other people did the same experiment as I did?” Webb concluded.