A recent study by Ecover, the ecological manufacturer of household cleaning products, found that over a third of British people would be in favour of taxes or fines to be imposed on businesses that fail to accept responsibility for the recycling of packaging.
It was established that one out of ten of the 2,007 shoppers surveyed would make throwing recyclable material away in a bin destined for landfill a criminal offence. Over half the shoppers were in favour of the introduction of a deposit scheme for plastic bottles and 42 percent advocated the installation of plastic-free aisles in supermarkets.
The recent Blue Planet II series, which was introduced by David Attenborough, is thought to have been an important influence on public opinion. According to Ecover, the series was responsible for raising awareness of the damage being done to the oceans of the world by plastic waste.
Since watching the series, many people have become more aware of the problems caused by plastic waste and the value of plastic recycling. One in five has begun to use reusable shopping bags, one in six has increased their plastic recycling habits at home or at work and 13% have started using products with less packaging.
A consultation will be launched later in the year by the environment secretary on banning sales of plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers. The government has suggested this as part of the strategy for meeting its 25-year environment plan that aims to protect the seas and rivers by eliminating all avoidable waste. The waste strategy also includes research on how best to address the problem of single-use plastic waste.
Sian Sutherland, from A Plastic Planet, praised the Prime Minister’s stance, describing plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds as a scourge on the environment. However, she stated that this was only the tip of the iceberg and that other measures, such as the introduction of plastic free aisles in supermarkets, should be implemented as soon as was possible. The use of plastic wrapping that will be around in the environment for ages does not make sense for items such as foodstuffs that will be consumed very quickly.
The Managing Director of Solutions 4 Retail Brands, James Butcher, gave a warning that legislation would not solve all the problems and called for business leaders to work together to reduce plastic waste.
According to Mr Butcher, the fact that the problem was being discussed was a positive beginning. He stated that the fact that retailers were beginning to address the problem on their own was encouraging. Iceland’s recent pledge to ensure that all its own brand products are plastic-free within five years was seen as good news. Iceland has already removed disposable plastic straws from its own brand products and plans this year to introduce new food ranges with paper-based food trays rather than plastic.
However, he also said that it was time for other national brands to take a similar stance to Iceland and to take responsibility for their actions.