According to a recent survey, UK households throw away nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic every year.
The Big Plastic Count saw nearly 100,000 households track every disposable wrap in the space of a week.
Completed last May, the project represented a quarter of a million people, who each launched an average of 66 coins per week.
If extended to every household in the country, it suggests that Britons throw away 96.6 billion pieces of disposable plastic a year.
Launched by environmental charities Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic, the survey also found that the most commonly discarded item was fruit and vegetable wrappers, followed by snack bags, packets and wraps.
Of the discarded plastic, the program revealed that 46% is incinerated and 25% is disposed of in landfills.
Only 12% will be recycled in UK facilities, with a further 17% sent overseas for processing, he added.
The two charities say this is the first time plastic waste has been measured in individual pieces, as the government records the amount by weight.
“Close the plastic tap”
Following these findings, they are now calling on the government to set legally binding targets to reduce single-use plastics by at least 50% by 2025.
“These new figures lay bare the responsibility of government, big brands and supermarkets to tackle this crisis, and they must rise to the challenge now – there is no time to waste,” said Daniel Webb , founder of Everyday Plastic.
Chris Thorne, UK plastics campaigner for Greenpeace, added that the government needed to “turn off the plastic tap”.
“This is a staggering amount of plastic waste and it should give ministers pause,” he said.
“Pretending we can sort this out with recycling is just industry greenwashing.”
In addition to steep reductions in single-use plastic, the organizations want to see a ban on plastic waste exports, a deposit-refund system on beverage containers and a moratorium on new incineration capacity.
What does the government do?
According to the trade association Plastics Europe, the global economy produces more than 350 million tonnes of plastic each year, more than the total mass of all mammals on Earth.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the government was “going a step further” in tackling single-use plastics by introducing its Environment Act.
“We have limited the supply of plastic straws and cotton swabs, banned the supply of plastic drink stirrers and are finalizing proposals to introduce a deposit system, which would capture plastic bottles.
“Producers of packaging will have to cover the cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging through the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility, and this year we introduced a world-leading plastic tax to help fight plastic waste.”
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