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Survey finds majority supports ban on single-use sachets

A recent survey by OnePoll shows that 79 per cent of Britons believe that sample sachets used by the personal and home care industries should be prohibited in the UK.

More than four in five say that the British Government should not ignore the impact of sample sachets on plastic pollution.

White plastic sachetThe poll was commissioned by A Plastic Planet, an international campaign group, for its Sack the Sachet campaign. It surveyed 2,000 people in the UK above the age of 18 between 17 and 22 March 2021.

In a single year, the personal care industry produces 122 billion plastic sachets. They are used to package perfume, shampoo, shower gel and detergent in single doses for customers to sample as a tester prior to purchasing the regular-sized product.

The sachets are a prolific plastic pollutant; ahead of cigarette butts and plastic bottles, the sachets are the most commonly found item of branded plastic waste, according to the most recent Global Brand Audit Report.

This is attributable to their small size, as well as the plastic and aluminium compound that combines to make a laminate film.

While the single-use plastics ban currently covers items such as plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, the UK and the EU have no measures or legislation in force that combat plastic sachet waste or their detrimental environmental impact.

In September 2020, an Early Day Motion supported by 26 cross-partisan politicians pressed for a government prohibition of non-food sachets.

Two months later in November, an online open letter – signed by environmental campaigners, business leaders and 22 parliamentarians – called on the UK and EU for a ban on single-use sample sachets.

The poll’s results were received positively by environmental activists, campaigners, and politicians, who insist that the Government reacts appropriately to the outcome, and takes immediate action.

A Planet Plastic Co-founder Sian Sutherland commented: “Single-dose sachets embody our hyper-consumptive, throwaway culture that is enabled by this miracle but misused and indestructible material, plastic.

“There is clear public consensus that pumping out billions of single-use sachets, useful for moments, polluting for centuries is now unacceptable. Somehow this pernicious use of plastic, the sachet, has slipped under all radars and it has to be stopped.

“They’re not going to be recycled, they’re entirely valueless and they’re contaminating our environment from the depths of the ocean to the soil we grow our food in.

“With growing cross-party political and public support, campaigners have been calling for action for years. What more does the Government need to show it must act now and sack the sachet for good?”

Labour MP for Leeds Central and former Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, said: “We have bans in place curbing the use of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers, but this barely scratches the surface of the plastics crisis.

“It’s really important that the Government’s action doesn’t end here, and I hope that plastic sample sachets will be included in the ban.”

Conservative MP for West Dorset, Chris Loder, said: “If we are to truly tackle plastic pollution, pernicious single-use items like sachets must be covered by ambitious legislation that curbs their use.

“We have bans in place for a choice few single-use items, and it's right to question why sample sachets, as well as other items are not included here.

“Sachets are among the most commonly found plastic items littering the environment, and neither we nor the Government can continue to overlook them."

Labour MP for Denton and Reddish and former Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Gwynne, stated: “With COP26 around the corner, the spotlight is on the UK to show global leadership on every aspect of the environmental crisis, including plastic pollution.

“To do this we cannot let sample sachets go under the radar. They’re the very definition of single-use, are often unasked for by consumers and are used by businesses simply to market their products.

“Knowing the devastating impacts of plastic on the environment, the use of sample sachets is unjustifiable.”