[Challenge] Plastic Waste

In the UK an average person produces 63kg of personal plastic waste per year. That’s 4 million tonnes across the UK. Globally 381 million tonnes are produced. That’s up 200 times since 1950 when globally there was only 2 million tonnes of plastic waste!

By 2025 plastic pollution is to increase 10 fold. If this carries on, by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will be equivalent to the mass of all marine life.

The UK accounts for 1.3% of the problem, even though we are 0.8% of global population. Our management practices result in 43% of plastics being ‘recycled’ but the majority of this either eventually sent to landfill or burnt. It is estimated that 9% of plastic is actually re-used through recycling processes.

With plastic waste increasing year on year and the option for burning our waste fading as the climate crisis looms, is it up to us to lead the way. This is why Better Century has created this challenge.

The challenge is to keep your plastic waste to 32 kg per year, which is half the UK average. This means limiting your plastic packaging waste to 13kg (43% of the total). Putting that into perspective, that’s 550 two pint plastic milk bottles per person per year alongside a reduction waste from tyres, textiles and consumer products.

To give you a sense of you’re already producing packaging and a small amount of your consumer products use this simple calculator.

This challenge is about meeting that target, then to get your friends to do the same. We could start a ripple of change which could echo through society.

Let’s get on with it!

Step 1: Fill in the pledges below and if you think you are already achieving these targets then all the more reason to sign up to help inspire others!

Step 2: Write a short piece in response to this topic about what you’re going to do to fulfil your pledges and get others involved. This post needs to attract five likes.

Step 3: Get one other person to sign up to Better Century. This is easily done - just share this challenge by copying the link and putting into your social media feed. Ask your friends to fill in the ‘Why did you join Better Century’ box that they joined because of you and this challenge.

When you succeed in the challenge you will receive this badge in recognition which will proudly be shown on your Better Century profile, and will be acknowledged on this topic. We will also be awarding a series of other badges for those who’ve given ‘Product Support’, or have been a great ‘Plastic Waste Story Teller’; those who’ve shared their story far and wide.

In succeeding with this challenge we’ll send you a voucher from a partnership organisation or will make a donation to Plastic Oceans.

I pledge to undertake this challenging of by keeping my plastic waste to 32 kg a year through the following means:

Please answer five out of the eight following ways you will reduce plastic from packaging and consumer products

  • Not buy water or fizzy drinks in single use plastic bottles
  • Use a re-usable hot drink cup or refuse plastic lids on disposables ones provided
  • Not use disposable plastic straws or cutlery
  • Buy non packaged fruit and veg from supermarkets (or leave the packaging at the till) or get a veg box delivered
  • Avoid single use plastic bags by carrying my own re-usable one
  • Get plastic free soap through bars or other alternatives
  • Get plastic free shampoo and conditioners bars or alternatives
  • Refill household detergents through refill schemes

0 voters

Please answer two out of the four following ways to reduce plastic from clothing and tyres

  • Capture microfibres from synthetic clothing products in my washing machine
  • Avoid purchase of non recycled synthetic clothing and shoe products
  • Where possible ensure clothing I am disposing of is re-used
  • When my family purchases tyres for the car I will push for longer lasting tyres to be bought (over 50,000 miles)

0 voters

Please answer complete these pledges for Plastic Waste Challenge

  • I will review what plastic waste I’m producing by using an online calculator or by assessing my plastic waste on an ongoing basis
  • I will keep people up to date with my undertaking of these challenge by sharing the places where I can reduce my plastics and my ongoing frustrations
  • I will help others in this challenge by giving them places they can find alternatives
  • I will lobby organisations I purchase products from to encourage them to reduce the amount of plastic
  • I will engage others outside of Better Century with this challenge

0 voters

Background on challenge

Sources of personal plastic pollution are as follows:

Personal Plastic Pollution Across UK (Million Tonnes) % Per Person (KG)
Plastic Packaging 2.3 47% 34.22
Tyres 0.7 14% 10.19
Textiles 0.6 13% 9.22
Consumer Products 0.6 12% 8.98
Industrial or Construction 0.7 15% 10.68

The rest of the plastic use is largely out of our control as it is used in construction, electronics and industrial machinery.


Useful documentaries:


These topics are useful for insights of what you can do to undertake this challenge.

1 Like

I already do quite a lot to reduce my plastic waste but this year’s going to the tough as we’ve got to replace 4 tires which represents 40kg of plastic waste. I garden for a lot of my food, and try and buy plastic free items from the shop but it’s really difficult. I also carry a re-usable water bottle and try and by fizzy drinks in cans but it’s a challenge sometimes! I’ve moved over to using soap and shampoo bars and they’re working for me so that’s something which I can cross of the list. I haven’t got into refilling bottles or anything like that but we’re going to try and do this year.

I do buy purposefully buy non-synthetic clothing and do lobby on these matters.

When doing the calculation through calculator provided our household plastic waste from packaging primarily is 33.1 kg a year. I can’t take all the blame for that as we’ve got kids but sure there is more I can do.

What I will do this year is push to buy long lasting tyres so I don’t have to go through that drama any time soon and will find an alternative to plastic packaging for our food and/or at least leave it at the shop to make a statement.

This is going to be a tough challenge. Please :heart: this post to encourage me on the way and to help me to be granted the badge!


Nice one for joining the challenge @Kathryn_Frimond. Remember to write something short about how your going to achieve the challenge and get one friend to sign up!

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Great challenge Tom. Pinned to my LinkedIn feed. Let’s do what we can by sharing with those we know care about the same things and realise that they can do something small today to make some difference.


Taken the plastic challenge. Not too bad on the calculator with a household (2 of us) total of just under 50kg per year. We’ve already done most of the swaps but will now aim to use soap and shampoo bars instead of liquids. I think the fact that I don’t do much housework had helped enormously!!


I love the choice of charity for this challenge. I’ve already done a lot to reduce our plastic waste - my biggest challenge is my husband who keeps buying water in plastic bottles despite my efforts to train him! It was easier to get my cat involved. She no longer gets her food in plastic pouches, but seems happy with the tinned equivalent. I’ve not found shampoo in non-plastic form yet but will look harder - although I do still worry about palm oil content. Our local Waitrose is trialling letting people bring their own containers so I will support that as well as another couple of local shops that have a re-fill scheme.


I’m going to a staff party in October and have just bought a lovely dress from the Oxfam online store, hope it fits. On a frustrating note, my partner and I got an exercise bike from Lidl last weekend and opened the box today. Every last item was wrapped in plastic!


Just a reminder for those undertaking the poll.

@Alandawson66: You need to fill in poll one and poll three to fulfil the challenge criteria and say how you’re going to complete the challenge.

@Kerena_Fussell & @Kathryn_Frimond : You still need to say something about how you’re going to fulfil the challenge

Thanks for taking part! Good luck with your next stage - getting someone else involved.

1 Like

I actually didn’t realised I’d signed up to do this! I think it’s a great idea, but wasn’t sure I had time to commit to all the bits. Generally, I think I’m doing fairly well at the moment. We’re lucky to have a local grocery where I’ve been able to finally ditch the one thing that was bothering me, which was buying bags of pasta and rice. They also do shampoo, soap etc - so that’s really helpful (solid shampoos are great, but the conditioners need work still!). My biggest frustration is still online shopping. Even companies that are ethical in most other ways, send clothes in plastic bags. I’m going to keep trying to reduce the plastic in my grocery shopping!


Nice one Kerena. I think this might have been a slip.

Thanks for getting involved anyway!


It was actually @Keerangrey - be great if you could say something about how you are going to complete the pledges…

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Some input here from @Struth about how she’s reduced her plastic waste:

So, I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of plastic used in our home and I’m experiencing a few challenges that I’m sure anyone trying to do this will face. In the bathrooms I’ve switched out shampoos, shower gels and liquid hand soaps for bar soaps and shampoos - not too difficult. I’m waiting for my cleaning sprays to be empty so I can try some of the home made solutions to re-use the plastic spray bottles. I’ve even managed to create a hanging bar soap holder for the showers, out of the old shower gel bottles.:grinning: I’m actually struggling most with food items. It’s really difficult to get a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging and when you do, it costs a lot more per item. Even the local farm shop and the market now has most items in plastic cartons. I’m planning to grow more of my own fruit and vegetables next year, but at the moment it’s really frustrating. Maybe this is a UK thing. There have been some fairly high profile campaigns asking the supermarkets to make changes, but it’s slow going!

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We are now ten fully signed up for the challenge! Good work to you all and good luck!

Remember @ig_im_vicole @Megan_Douglas @Speakeasy @alexjenkins1231 @MarkT43 who have just joined the challenge - you need to write a short post in response to this topic about what you think it going to be difficult about this challenge. I notice quite a few of you are 13-18 which means you don’t get much say at what happens at home… Perhaps let us know if you think that will make it more difficult.

Do remember to like each others posts to keep momentum up! :fist:

1 Like

So, I’m frustrated today as I went to Marks and Spencer with my 7 month year old to get a few things we needed. I had little time to shop around and I wanted to walk into town.

I got done on how much plastic packaging I used. As a result I’ve:

  1. Written to Marks and Spencer via twitter and have had a response
  2. Will go into the shop tomorrow and drop off the plastic for them to dispose of it.

Also - at the weekend, whilst in Northern Ireland, I went to the families favourite ice cream shop and also was done with plastic spoons and a straw. I didn’t want to be a downer for everyone who had come out so I wrote to Mauds. (still haven’t had a response):

Hi Mauds,

I’ve just come with my family to have an ice cream and milk shake in your shop at Newcastle. I was pretty appalled to find plastic straws, cups and spoons in the shop. Do you realise the weight of plastic in the sea by 2050 will be the equivalent to all marine life?

It would be great to see a place next to the sea pioneering change. If you need any help there’s loads of people who can support at www.bettercentury.org. If you have problems with finding substitutes etc we can help… for free…

Good luck in helping make this a century to be proud of.




Nice one! Anyone else got frustrations to share?

Like others I have switched to shampoo bars and real soap bars for the shower. Hardest task is persuading the rest of the family to change. Food shopping which I have limited control over is very plastic based from the supermarkets. We really need them to change to make a huge difference for all.


Well, here Is my rubbish and recycling for the last fortnight. Rubbish/landfill waste in black bag. Next time I shall weigh it all, but this is what I’m starting off at, so aim to reduce it