Brits bin over 1,000 items of plastic per year each

On a weekly basis we’re shown images of the impact that rubbish and plastic has on the ocean. Therefore, we thought it was important to examine the impact UK adults have on this global issue.

Although nine in ten Brits think that the ocean is polluted, each adult throws away as many as 1,071 different plastic items on average per year, or 21 items each week. This amounts to 55.5 billion items collectively.

Plastic food packaging is the most commonly binned item, with consumers throwing an average of four of these items away per week each, followed by plastics drinks bottles and wet wipes, with individuals binning three of both of these items on a weekly basis.

Thankfully, almost all consumers (97%) do use some form of ethical alternative in their everyday lives. Nearly 90% use a bag for life, while 76% use reusable food containers such as Tupperware, and 57% use reusable water bottles or coffee cups. It is women that are leading the environmental charge, with females using more reusable items compared to males, such as:

  • bags for life (92% vs 84%)
  • reusable plastic food containers (83% vs 69%)
  • reusable water bottles/coffee cups (63% vs 50%)

Among those who use plastic alternatives, half (50%) do so because they are concerned about the impact single use plastics have on the environment, whilst a similar number feel that they are convenient (48%) and want to help protect the planet for future generations (47%). Over a third (36%) are trying to live a more ethical lifestyle.

Life in plastic isn’t so fantastic

Nine in ten (89%) Brits state they are worried about the impact of plastics on the environment, and among those, 84% are more worried than they were five years ago. Furthermore, consumers are acknowledging the need for individuals to take responsibility and action. A third (36%) believe individuals have the most accountability for reducing plastic use, followed by brands and large organisations (29%) and plastics manufacturers (16%).

Moreover, a third (33%) think supermarkets and brands using less plastic in product packaging would be the most effective solution in reducing waste. One in six (16%) think easier recycling options would solve this, while 15% think incentivized recycling would help.