Major survey says household recycling fails to tackle plastic pollution

The report claimed that the UK’s recycling systems cannot cope with the amount of plastic packaging waste leaving households – estimated at 1.85 billion pieces a week – and insists that only 12% of these are likely to be recycled in the UK.

In May, nearly a quarter of a million people (248,957) from 97,948 UK households took part in the survey; on average, each household threw away 66 plastic wrappers in a week, or about 3,432 pieces per year – equivalent to an estimated 1.85 billion plastic wrappers thrown into the bin per week, or 96.57 billion pieces per year. year in the UK.

Food and beverage packaging accounted for an overwhelming majority (83%) of the waste generated during the count.

The report says supermarket giants are responsible for a significant amount of this packaging waste.

The most frequently counted items were fruit and vegetable wraps (1.02 million pieces), followed closely by bags, packets and snack wraps (1.01 million pieces).

With estimates suggesting that only 12% of this plastic waste is likely to be recycled in UK reprocessing facilities, more (17%) will be shipped overseas – with no guaranteed destination, and nearly half (46% ) Household plastic waste in the UK is incinerated, with the remaining 25% buried in landfills.

The majority of plastic packaging waste discarded by UK households is generally not collected for curbside recycling; around 62% of registered plastic pieces are not collected or are incorrectly collected by UK local authorities.

Flexible plastics and plastic films are difficult to recycle and represent the majority of parts thrown away by participants (57%). Only 13% of local authorities collect soft plastic and this is often limited to a small number of soft plastic items, such as carrier bags, bread bags, fanny packs and toilet paper wrappers.

“Too much emphasis is placed on recycling and making plastic recyclable, rather than reducing plastic in the first place,” the report read. “Recycling plastics is not the silver bullet that many think it is. A circular economy must be built around materials that can be reused and recycled multiple times, which most plastics cannot.”

He added: “The only solution to plastic pollution is to end our addiction to plastic. This means a rapid transition to reusable packaging that meets everyone’s needs.

The report also strongly criticized repeated delays in implementing a deposit-refund system, as well as promised new extended producer responsibility requirements, and criticized the reliance on incineration sites and landfill.

Bryce K. Locke