Single-Use Plastic

Single Use Plastic

Single use plastics are only used once before being disposed of or recycled, these include items such as plastic carrier bags, straws, water bottles and packaging.

Over 380 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, 50% of this is single-use or disposable plastic and 9% is never recycled. Single-use plastics are goods made primarily from fossil fuel based chemicals, also known as petrochemical, these are created with the intent to be disposed of after use, often immediately or within minutes.

While some single use plastics are necessary, the rate at which single use plastics are being created and disposed of highlights the modern-day issue of throwaway culture. These single-use plastics are being disposed of so quickly that people do not even consider the impact they might have, as this is over-shadowed by convenience. This throwaway culture means convenience is prioritised over durability and long-term impact.

Reducing plastic use is the most effective method of reducing this waste and other impacts linked to plastic production and use. Recycling more plastic more frequently will reduce its footprint. Single-use, petroleum-based plastics are more difficult to recycle and new virgin materials and chemicals have to be added. These plastics are not biodegradable and typically end up in buried in landfill or in the ocean. When these plastics degrade they release toxic chemicals which may end up in food and water supply.

Our top tips for reducing plastic use:

  • Bring your own bags for life or fabric carrier bags when shopping
  • Choose products made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo
  • Choose reusable products over single-use products

Sources: NRDC

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