A Southwark environmental group is asking residents of the borough to count how much plastic they throw out in a week, as part of a nationwide effort to show the scale of plastic waste.
Southwark Greenpeace said this information will help them put pressure on the government and big supermarkets to cut plastic waste.
Volunteers went to Telegraph Hill market on Sunday and showed passers-by a photo of all the plastic waste thrown out by a single person in six months. They asked the passers-by to guess how many people used this much plastic, and hardly anyone guessed that it was just one.
Southwark Greenpeace volunteer Romana said she herself was “amazed” that one person used so much plastic in six months.
“Many people we spoke to shared frustrations around challenges in avoiding plastic usage, especially with family duties, needs, time and money playing a role,” she added. “I’m disappointed to hear that lots of plastic might not actually be recycled, but is in fact often incinerated, sent to landfill, or dumped abroad. It’s up to the government and big supermarkets to cut plastic packaging, and to properly deal with our waste.”
The UK produces more plastic waste per person than almost any other country in the world with 99kg each – second only to the USA, according to Forbes. In 2018, the UK generated 5.2 million tonnes of plastic waste, enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times over.
The government wants to eliminate all “avoidable” plastic waste by 2042. Ministers say they want to “work towards” only recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic being on the market by 2025.
Southwark Greenpeace wants the government to set more ambitious targets, including reducing single-use plastic by 50 per cent by 2025.
More than 63,000 people from across the UK including more than 450 households in Southwark have signed up to take part in the Big Plastic Count so far. Sign-up to take part here.