Three in four people confused about how to reduce impact of plastic

The North London Waste Authority has today (1 August) released research showing that David Attenborough’s Blue Planet TV series has encouraged 69 per cent of people to change their habits in order to help the environment, but that three out of four people are unaware of how best to reduce the impact of single-use plastic.

Half of the 2,020 UK adults that responded to the survey carried out by Censuswide said that they thought recycling as much as possible was the best way to reduce the impact of single-use plastics such as bottles, straws and cutlery have on the environment. Only one in four said that the better option is to stop buying or using these items.

An estimated 13 billion plastic bottles are used in the UK every year and 700,000 get littered daily. A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has claimed that if current pollution rates continue as they are now, we could be looking at a situation where there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050.

The NLWA is issuing a public reminder to consider a switch to reusable bottles, under its ‘Wise Up To Waste’ banner, while also calling on shops, bars and cafes to make it easier for people to refill their water bottles on the go.

Two thirds of those surveyed said they now have a reusable bottle, rising to 71 per cent in London and the South East. However, 25 per cent said that they often forget to use them. 
When asked what would make them buy a reusable bottle or use theirs more often:

  • 26 per cent said more public places to refill, such as water fountains;
  • 25 per cent said remembering to take their reusable bottle out with them as they often forget;
  • 25 per cent said being able to refill in any pub, cafe or shop without feeling awkward or feeling they should buy something;
  • 20 per cent said being sure of the cleanliness of existing water fountains; and
  • 13 per cent said cheaper reusable bottles.

North London businesses can therefore help support the switch to reusable bottles by downloading a ‘refill here’ poster, making it clear that passers-by can refill their bottles without feeling that they are being rude, or fear of embarrassment. Residents can also find details about their closest NLWA roadshow, which is visiting more than 30 events across the seven north London Boroughs over the summer to pick up free waste prevention tools and share other ways to reduce waste.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA, said: “It’s fantastic that Blue Planet has encouraged so many people to adopt more environmentally friendly habits. Many people would previously have been unaware of the damage caused by single use plastics and it’s natural to think of increasing the amount they recycle as the solution, which is certainly important. 

“Summer is a great time to remember that prevention is better than cure when it comes to plastic pollution and with a bottle of water costing up to £2, think of the money you could save by switching to reusable this summer! We want to encourage more north London residents to ‘Wise Up To Waste’ and make the switch to reusable bottles and more businesses to support them by making it clear they are welcome to refill.”

The Refill Project

Many cities and towns are aiming to encourage the use of reusable bottles by signing up to the Refill Project, first launched by anti-plastic pollution charity City to Sea in Bristol in September 2015. The project is designed to reduce plastic pollution by building a network of free water points for people to refill their bottles, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles. If you use the app you are able to see the nearest place offering free tap water.

London signed up to the scheme earlier this year, and it is currently operating in Greenwich town centre, Lewisham High Street, the Southbank and Bankside, Regent Street and London Bridge.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “A free tap water scheme is long overdue in London and I welcome all of the retailers and business who have shown their strong commitment to reducing unnecessary plastic waste by joining the London Refill scheme.

“We all need to try harder to cut the excessive use of single-use plastic bottles, cups and cutlery that can end up pointlessly overflowing our landfill sites, finding their way into our oceans and harming our environment.  I hope that even more businesses sign up to the scheme to help Londoners make small but significant steps, like refilling our bottles, to drive down plastic waste. City Hall is part of the scheme and I encourage everyone to download the free London Refill app to see which outlets are involved.”

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