Coronavirus prompts increase in household plastic waste

The latest Everyday Plastic Survey has revealed that the amount of plastic waste in UK homes increased during the coronavirus lockdown.

Some 483 people in 179 households took part in the survey, first started by Daniel Webb in 2018, by recording the amount of plastic waste they produced for a week during lockdown. The results show that they collected almost 23,000 pieces of rubbish between them.

The highest amount collected by one home was 734 pieces of plastic, while the lowest was 17. This means that, on average, each household used 128 pieces of plastic during the week - up from 99 in similar surveys. That equates to 3.6 billion pieces being thrown away each week in the UK.

During lockdown, the survey found that 68 per cent of the plastic waste was from food and drink products, of which a tiny amount would end up being recycled. This includes approximately 1,960 pieces of fruit and vegetable packaging and more than 2,950 snack wrappers.

According to Webb, only 37 per cent of the plastic waste that was collected was considered to be recyclable by local councils, and only five per cent would actually end up being recycled.

He said: “The outcome of the Everyday Plastic Survey supports assumptions that domestic plastic waste increased under lockdown conditions, particularly fruit and veg packaging, snack wrappers, parcel bags and PPE. The Everyday Plastic Survey is designed to fast track our awareness and understanding, which in turn leads to more responsible consumer choices. We believe that this encourages - or ultimately obliges - businesses and governments to improve their practice and policy."