The UK is predicted to experience its ‘Plastic Overshoot Day’ on 17 November 2023, which is when the total amount of plastic waste outweighs the country’s ability to manage it, according to research consultancy EA Earth Action.
More than 149,000t of short-life plastic waste is also expected to be exported from the UK in 2023.
The report specifically focuses on short-life plastic waste originating from solid waste management systems and encompassing plastic packaging and single-use plastics.
Textiles, long-lasting plastic products and industrial plastics are excluded from the study.
Out of 157 days of plastic overshoot planned in 2023, the UK will be responsible for 14.1 hours.
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EA Earth Action has established ten country archetypes, which include tailored policy recommendations for every country in the world, with the UK categorised as a ‘Transactor’.
The Transactors are wealthy countries, mostly in the West, that export and import a lot of waste, usually from neighbouring countries.
The global average consumption of short-life plastic per person per year is 20.9 kilograms. But the UK’s average plastic consumption per capita is reportedly 31.1kg.
A ban on some single-use plastics will be introduced by the UK Government in October 2023. Additionally, the UK is part of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution pledge to end plastic pollution by 2040.
But the total short-life plastic consumption in the country in 2023 already amounts to more than two million tonnes of waste. This translates to almost 60,000t of microplastics released in waterways and more than 1,500t of chemical additives, which can have harmful impacts on ecosystems and human health.
EA Earth Action’s co-CEO Sarah Perreard comments: “If the UK wants to show real leadership on this issue, it must prioritise significantly reducing its plastic consumption, implement effective reusable packaging schemes and join the 13 European countries that have already introduced a functioning and effective Deposit Return Scheme.”