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 fish in the sea.
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 reused through recycling processes.
The world has woken up to the impact plastic is having in ecosystems across the world. In response supermarkets have pledged to cut plastic used in packaging, and the government has banned certain plastic items.
The clear drive is for society to reduce the use of single use plastics, but how high is the cost of doing this across all the movement and transportation of goods? We will explore various solutions from the circular economy through to simply getting rid of single use plastic.
Connor Bryant -Co Founder and Director @The Rubbish Project and Loop Innovations
Connor is a circular economy entrepreneur. He is co-founder & Director of Loop Innovations & The Rubbish Project. One of their first products is The Rubbish Cup, which is the only cup in the UK that’s made from 100% recycled plastic and is part of a closed loop, circular economy solution. No new plastic enters the planet to make the cups and no waste plastic is produced after they’ve been used. Connor believes the populist anti plastic movement may in fact be doing more harm than good. Plastic in many cases is the most environmentally friendly material choice, especially in a circular economy model, and there are mountains of scientific evidence to support this. Ocean plastic is a massive issue, but it’s a waste management issue not a material one.
Jo Ruxton - Founder and Director @Plastic Oceans
Jo initially co-founded the Plastic Oceans Foundation in 2009, to fund our documentary feature, ‘A Plastic Ocean’, which raises awareness whilst entertaining people on the impact of plastic in the oceans. Along with this feature length documentary, she launched programs in Science & Policy, Sustainability & Environmental Impact and now heads up a Conservation & Education department. By 2020 Plastic Oceans UK aims to transform how consumers, governments, and businesses view, use, and dispose of plastic. Our ultimate goal is to have plastic classified globally as hazardous in the ocean.
Lizzie is a marine conservationist with an MSc in Marine Environmental Management. She works at the Marine Conservation Society as their Beachwatch Officer. She helps support their national beach clean and litter surveying programme by conducting beach litter data analysis, community and volunteer engagement and coordinate’s MCS’s annual litter survey event, the Great British Beach Clean. The litter data that is collected and analysed has allowed MCS to* *influence national and European legislation, encourage best practice within industries and run public campaigns that offer effective solutions to litter found on our UK beaches.
Melissa James - Minimalist @Journey to Zero Waste
Melissa grew up in rural Wales, which piqued a love for the environment at an early age. At only 20 years old, she spends most of her time volunteering to run a facebook group; Journey To Zero Waste in the UK, which currently has 37,000 members and is the biggest in the UK. She is vegan and battles consumerism through minimalism. Currently a student, she completes a journey via public transport of 3 hours each way to her lectures in an effort to reduce the effect of driving on the environment.