Chris Packham and Joanna Lumley take part in Britain’s largest plastic waste investigation

It is hoped that the results of the Big Plastic Count will put pressure on the government and supermarkets to act to reduce single-use plastic by 50% by 2025

TV presenter Chris Packham
TV presenter Chris Packham takes part in the Big Plastic Count

The UK’s largest-ever survey of household plastic waste has been launched to find out how much leaves our homes and what happens to it after we throw it away.

The UK produces more plastic waste per person than any other country except the US.

In 2018, the country generated 5.2 million tonnes of plastic waste, enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times. Britain also exports large quantities of plastic waste abroad.

It is hoped that the results of the Big Plastic Count will put pressure on the government and supermarkets to act to reduce single-use plastic by 50% by 2025.

They also want to see a ban on all plastic waste exports and introduce a deposit return system (DRS) for recycling and reuse.

So far, over 140,000 participants plan to attend, including TV presenter Chris Packham, actress Joanna Lumley and Bonnie Wright.

Joanne Lumley also takes part in the count



Also registered are 94 MPs from across the House, 3,500 school groups from across the UK and the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Each participant is asked to record the different types of plastic packaging waste that they throw away. It was inspired by Everyday Plastics founder Daniel Webb.

He collected every piece of litter for a year and worked with a scientific researcher to turn this into a method that the public can now use to find out what happens to their plastic waste when they throw it away.

Chris Packham said: “The Big Plastic Count will, for the first time, tell ordinary people what happens to their plastic waste after we throw it away and we hope it will compel the government to take action and address the plastic waste crisis.”

The UK has a huge plastic waste problem


(Getty Images)

Greenpeace UK Plastics Campaigner Chris Thorne added: “We want to see real action from government to turn the tide on our plastic crisis.

“That means an immediate end to landfill in other countries like Turkey and legally binding targets that actually tackle the plastic problem at the source.”

A survey by YouGov for Greenpeace UK found that while more than three quarters (77%) of people in the UK recycle plastic products to reduce their waste, almost as many (75%) are unaware of what is happening to their plastic recycling after they threw it away.

Daniel Webb of Everyday Plastic said: “I decided in 2017 to count all my plastic waste for a full year.

“It helped me understand my personal plastic footprint, which completely shocked me and made me advocate for change.”

“This is really a crucial moment in the fight against the plastic problem.

“We hope the results of The Big Plastic Count will persuade government, supermarkets and big brands to take bold steps to tackle the plastic crisis once and for all, which is extremely exciting, maybe even revolutionary.”

Bonnie Wright takes part in the count



“We need to get a grip on our plastic obsession” by Chris Packham

Our planet is drowning in plastic. I remember finding a plastic bottle the moment I set foot on my first Antarctic beach.

Nowhere does our plastic obsession go untouched.

It’s modern environmental colonialism. We throw away our plastic waste so it’s out of sight and out of mind. It’s shipped halfway around the world where it ends up harming people and nature while most of us at home are happily unaware. 3 in 4 people in the UK don’t know what happens to their plastic waste after they throw it away.

That’s why I’m working with Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic on The Big Plastic Count, Britain’s largest survey of plastic waste, which starts today.

Britain exports plastic waste abroad


© Caner Özkan / Greenpeace)

The census will provide the first national snapshot of what happens to people’s plastic waste as it leaves their homes.

Educating attendees and the public about the reality of our broken waste system.

Almost 150,000 signed up. Obviously the public is still very concerned about their plastic waste.

They want to know what’s happening with it and want to see government action to address it.

We’ve had almost 100 MPs from across the House signed up, which shows concern cuts across political divides.

If our government is serious about tackling the plastic crisis, it must ban the export of plastic waste, implement a deposit system and reduce all single-use plastic by 50% by 2025.

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Fry Electronics Team

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