Environmental campaigner Daniel Webb has demonstrated just how wasteful not recycling your rubbish is, by saving every scrap of plastic he used across the course of a year.
Storing all the plastic he would have thrown in the bin, Webb collected a total of 4,490 individual pieces of plastic, with his consumption close to that of the average person, he said, despite the high number.
Making matters worse, roughly 70 per cent of Webb collected was not currently recyclable – and 93 per cent of his plastic pile was single-use.
A report drawn up by Webb and researcher Dr Julie Schneider found that the UK throws away an estimated 295 billion pieces of plastic per year, the majority of it single-use. Based on national recyling collection rates, only an estimated 10 per cent of the plastic Webb got through would be recycled.
Webb’s collection of plastics from the year has been photographed by Ollie Harrop and since been turned into a mural in Kent, where Webb lives.
On the takeaway from his ambitious project, Webb said: “We can’t just rely on recycling to fix plastic pollution... we need to produce and use much less plastic.”
He added: “Our fast-moving disposable society means that we are using more single-use things than ever, so we need to rethink how we consume.”
Single use plastic items make up more than 70 per cent of marine litter and will be banned across EU countries by 2021, under newly announced plans.
Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of the charity Surfers Against Sewage, praised Webb’s report, saying it “not only exposes the sheer diversity and volume of single-use plastic we all have to navigate daily, but as alarmingly, the inadequacy of current recycling systems.”
Schneider also pointed out how commonly food packaging items are stamped with the “not currently recycled” logo.
“Plastic bottles can be properly recycled, but what about the plastic film that wraps our vegetables, pasta and sweets?” he said. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently.”