Plastic Fantastic? How to reduce your single-use plastic consumption


Greenpeace UK estimate that around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans. That’s a truckload of plastic every minute. Containing everything from plastic drinks bottles, bags, microbeads and food packaging, this colossal amount of waste is having a devastating impact on our environment.

Nationally, we use over 35 million plastic bottles every day in the UK. Of these, nearly 16 million plastic bottles aren't being recycled, and these litter the streets of the UK, get put into landfill or end up in the ocean where they are detrimental to wildlife. Plastic is now so prolific in our oceans that it can even be found on the seafood that ends up on our plates. It is in every level of the ocean food chain, with the problem only getting worse.

Supermarkets in the UK have recently announced plans to either cut out or reduce their plastic usage. Back in January 2018, Iceland have announced plans to eliminate all plastic packaging on their own brands by 2023. Instead, they will create packaging made out of paper and pulp - all eco-friendly and recyclable alternatives. More recently, Aldi has announced they will ‘ensure that all packaging on own label products will be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022’.

Aldi & Iceland were also joined by fellow supermarkets Tesco & Co-op who all gave their backing for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles. The use of “reverse vending machines” has been discussed after both Sweden & Germany operated these successfully. These could see the public insert used disposable drinks containers into a machine in return for money. Sweden currently has an upfront 8p deposit scheme and Germany charges customers 22p before any empty bottles and cans are returned.

We’ve put together some ways that you can reduce your single-use plastic consumption:

  • Ditch the plastic bottles and drink water from the tap. You can download the app from, which details free water refill stations across the UK

  • Buy your own reusable coffee cup and take it to your local coffee shop - some places will even give you a discount!

  • Stop chewing gum (it more often than not contains plastic)

  • Use paper bags to transport loose fruit from supermarkets and groceries instead of plastic.

  • Buy a butter dish so that you can purchase butter wrapped in greaseproof paper rather than in cartons. Likewise choose cheese which is wrapped in paper instead of plastics.

  • Ask for your drink without a straw

  • Buy in bulk/bigger products as this uses less packaging that single serve products and travel-friendly minis

  • Leave packaging at the till! Make excess packaging a problem for the supermarkets!