Single-use plastic waste and ocean pollution leaves UK consumers happy to change

By Susann Jerry

Twenty-five years or so after a small British grown charity called the Marine Conservation Charity started lobbying against the rising tide of plastic polluting our shores and oceans. The UK Government has finally cottoned on to a vote winning public relations campaign.

Plastic waste research survey shows consumers are changing their behaviour

  • Almost all UK consumers re-use plastic bags at home (98 percent), 70 percent all the time
  • 9 out of 10 UK consumers (91 percent) recycle plastic bottles by having them collected by the Council, 68 percent all the time
  • Over 8 in 10 UK consumers (86 percent) at least occasionally refuse plastic bags when offered them in stores, a third (33 percent) all the time
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) think the Government has a responsibility to help developing nations tackle the issue in their countries
  • Plastic waste is equally a concern to UK consumers as Brexit (Plastic waste 35 percent, Brexit 34 percent)
  • To read the full plastic waste survey click here 

Many consumers have got to grips with local kerbside recycling schemes, although some probably question where it all eventually ends up. Changes in attitudes towards single-use plastic has lead to 46 percent of UK consumers always or mostly declining plastic straws with their drinks. More than half (53 percent) also say they are actively trying to buy groceries that are not sold in plastic packaging.

Plastic, Policy and Prime Time TV

It seems people now care as much about plastic waste and ocean pollution as Brexit – perhaps because national TV treasure Sir David Attenborough has raised awareness of plastic waste through the Licence Fee.

Certainly, the media coverage of plastic waste has given Michael Gove a chance to deflect public attention away from yet another bad news week for the Government. Is this simply grabbing onto the coat-tails of our marine scientists and conservationists who have been asking for a curb for years?

Cynics might say Gove merely grabbed the nearest policy off the departmental shelf to stave off the heat of Windrush and Syria. This Government has a real opportunity to do something radical, winning the minds of the public and making real change to society’s view of plastic waste. Plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds are just the tip of the giant ‘plasticberg’.

Because of the consumer ground-swell captured by our plastic waste research, this Government can strong arm the retail, food and manufacturing industries into ditching single-use plastic – and there’s nothing those producers can do about it.

Because no one wants to see turtles, whales, fish and sea-horses suffer. Do they? So just get on and do it.

To read the full plastic waste study click here.

Image courtesy of @sagar_fotography

 

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