How much plastic packaging do you throw away every week? I’ve been counting mine as part of the Big Plastic Count. The aim of the count is to create the UK’s biggest nationwide investigation into household plastic waste; to find out how much plastic is passing through our homes and what happens to it.
Shockingly, the UK produces more plastic packaging per person than almost any other country in the world (apart from the US) and our recycling systems can’t cope with it.
The 25 year Environment Plan sets out an ambition to tackle plastic packaging waste – particularly from food products. This year, the government’s going to set binding targets for the reduction of plastic food packaging waste.
Whether those targets are strong and meaningful or just greenwash is in the balance. The Big Plastic Count’s data will provide good evidence of the scale of the problem, and hopefully convince the government, brands and supermarkets to tackle it in earnest.
One big issue is around food packaging. Fresh fruit and veg accounts for a third of all household food thrown away that could have been eaten. The problem is that plastic packaging can extend the life of fresh fruit and veg. So how can we cut food waste and plastic packaging?
The charity WRAP’s Plastics Pact is working with big brands and supermarkets to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging, and to stop using best before labels.
They’re investigating providing fresh produce loose without increasing food waste. They’ve found that many shoppers want to buy fruit and veg loose, and supermarkets are responding with an increase in plastic free produce.
My weekly tally of plastic packaging has been horrifying, and I really want to reduce it. I can do my bit by seeking out unpackaged stuff, but ultimately this is a problem that has to be solved elsewhere. It’s up to the government, brands and shops to tackle plastic waste, not the individual.
This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – June 2021