The Big Plastic Count, the UK’s largest household plastic waste survey, has found that the country’s households discard an estimated 90 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year. 

This figure has remained consistent with the initial count made in 2022, indicating little progress made by supermarkets and brands in reducing plastic packaging. 

It also revealed that only 17% of this plastic was being recycled domestically. 

The survey was conducted by Greenpeace UK and Everyday Plastic, with academic partner the University of Portsmouth’s Revolution Plastics Institute. 

Carried out between 11 and 17 March 2024, The Big Plastic Count involved nearly 225,000 individuals and several members from community groups and businesses across the UK. 

According to the survey, each household throws away an average of 60 pieces of plastic packaging weekly, totalling 1.7 billion pieces nationally.

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Despite the public’s overwhelming support for reducing plastic waste, the results show the stark reality of the current situation. 

Greenpeace UK and Everyday Plastic are now urging the UK government and supermarkets to commit to a legally binding target in the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations to reduce plastic production by at least 75% by 2040.  

Greenpeace UK political campaigner Rudy Schulkind said: “This year, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to finally secure a global, legally binding target to radically reduce plastic production, but it will only deliver the kind of progressive action needed if countries like the UK push for plastic production to be reduced by at least 75% by 2040.” 

The Big Plastic Count also shed light on the issue of incineration, with more than half of the aforementioned plastic packaging waste being burned, releasing harmful emissions and contributing to climate change.  

The call for action by the entities to the government includes speeding up the introduction of reuse and refill models, banning plastic waste exports, implementing a deposit return scheme, and halting approvals for new incineration facilities. 

The survey’s results come ahead of the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations, with public polling showing strong support for reducing plastic production to combat pollution and protect biodiversity.