20 December 2017

UK environmental coalition calls for stronger measures to cut plastic waste

A coalition of charities, which includes the National Trust, Friends of the Earth, the RSPCA, WWF, and The Wildlife Trusts is calling for businesses and the UK’s four nations to tackle the issue of plastic pollution head on.

The group, led by Wildlife and Countryside Link, suggested new policies, such as: increasing charges on single-use plastics; incentivising manufacturers to reduce single-use packaging, and phasing-out plastics which are the hardest to recycle.

Dr Elaine King, Director at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “Our waste can be invisible to us once it’s in the bin. So it is easy to forget that it ends up in landfill or finds its way into our rivers and seas – polluting our land, oceans, animals, fish, birds and insects. We need to give a gift to the environment and get our packaging waste under control”.

The coalition released figures which highlighted the extent of the problem in the UK, covering just the Christmas period.

It analysed official data from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to estimate that over the festive period over 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away. This is more than the weight of 3.3 million Emperor penguins.

In addition, the total waste from food and drink, Christmas trees, wrapping paper and other packaging is likely to exceed 5 million. The amount of card packaging alone will exceed 300,000 tonnes.

Dr Lyndsey Dodds, Head of marine policy at WWF-UK said: “We must stop being a throwaway nation and find sustainable alternatives that don’t harm our planet. A staggering amount of plastic is set to be wasted this Christmas. If we don’t take action to turn the tide, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050”.

Paul de Zylva, Senior Nature Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, added: “Marking Christmas and the New Year can see our bins bulge with a third more waste. This season, let’s help cut threats to turtles and other sea life by getting drastic with plastic”.

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