OPINION: So what exactly is the problem with single use plastics?

We’re Plastic Free Scotland. We’re a group of volunteers who have one mission – ending the use of single use plastic in Scotland.

We want to make Scotland a greener place, and that’s why working to encouraging businesses to change their way and stop using single use plastics.

Single use plastic is everywhere you look and there’s no getting away from it. You only have to step inside your local supermarket and straight away you’ll be confronted by fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic that you cannot recycle. If you want a ready meal for dinner then that’s wrapped in plastic too, and so are the crisps and chocolate you might pick up for a snack too.

So what exactly is the problem with single use plastics?

Plastic waste is a huge problem and it’s only getting worse. Households in the UK get through more than one and half million tonnes of plastic packaging each year – that’s the equivalent of a quarter of a million elephants! Only a third the plastic packaging we use gets recycled, and much of it can’t be recycled at all.

sarah moyes

That means that a lot of our plastic waste ends up in the landfill where it will stay for hundreds of years. It also ends up in our oceans – it poisons birds, suffocates animals, and when it’s eaten by fish it makes its way back into the food chain.

In recent years, supermarkets have taken steps towards reducing their waste like charging customers for plastic bags, but it’s simply not enough. Customers might not be putting their food into plastic bags as much these days, but the majority of that food we’re picking up is still wrapped in single use plastic.

That’s why we’ve launched a campaign calling on UK supermarkets to cut out plastic packaging for good by taking 3 simple steps:

  1. Ditch unnecessary packaging on fruits and vegetables
  2. Replace unavoidable plastic packaging with biodegradable and recyclable materials
  3. Work with supplies to take plastic off the shelves for good

You can support our first campaign by taking action today and asking your supermarket to ditch single use plastics. Just visit our campaign page here where you’ll be able to edit an email to your local supermarket.

You can also join us by campaigning in your local area.

We have groups set up in Edinburgh and Stirling already, but anyone with a passion for reducing plastic pollution can set up their own campaign group. You can get in touch with us on plasticfreescotland@gmail.com or you can check out our guide the Plastic Free Scotland Guide to Campaigning here

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our campaign or any hints and tips you have on reducing your own plastic consumption. You can email the team on plasticfreescotland@gmail.coes

Sarah Moyes, Plastic Free Scotland

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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