Reducing Plastic Waste

The rise in popularity and convenience of single-use plastics has led to a plastic waste and pollution problem. Many single-use plastics end up in the general rubbish, rather than being recycled, wasting the vast quantity of materials used to make them.

Plastic also ends up in the environment. 12 million tonnes enter our oceans yearly[1] most of which are plastic bottles, straws, stirrers, bags, and cutlery. This plastic waste and pollution harms ocean wildlife and threatens biodiversity.

Plastic pollution breaks down into small fragments called microplastics. Microplastics contaminate the seas and soil, and eventually are consumed by animals on land and sea. Microplastics are then consumed by us in contaminated food.

To solve the problem, plastics must be reused and recycled, and new packaging types designed so that single-use plastics are no longer used. Changing our behaviours and switching to reusable cups, bottles, and bags, can also significantly reduce plastic waste. Here are some easy actions for you to take:

Easy steps for you

70% of your plastic waste is plastic packaging. Switching to reusable items such as cups, bottles, bags and lunch ware can reduce your plastic waste.

Here are some simple actions you can take when you’re out and about:

  1. Use a reusable coffee cup, lots of businesses give a discount when you do
  2. Remember your reusable carrier bag
  3. Choose loose fruit and vegetables
  4. Always carry your reusable water bottle, there are lots of refill stations available
  5. Sign up to the Refill app to find local places to eat, drink and shop with less waste

To find places where you can shop with less plastic and waste visit the following links:

  • Refill connects you to places to eat, drink and shop with less waste
  • USELESS helps you find your nearest no waste shop
  • A map of no waste shops in Hackney
  • Refill stations in Camden at Queen’s Crescent Street market and Chalton Street market where you can take containers to refill body care and cleaning products 
  • No waste market in Haringey where no extra packaging or carrier bags are used

You can also visit your local farmers market and buy loose fruit and vegetables. Here’s a few to choose from:

  • The Spires market in Barnet
  • Farmers market in Enfield
  • Farmers market in Islington encouraging customers to bring their own bags and containers

Quick wins for businesses

There are many actions that businesses can take to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic they use.

  1. Encourage your customers to bring their own bag and get into the habit of not offering one
  2. Remind your customers to bring their own reusable cups and lunch ware and add a charge for single-use items
  3. Ask customers if they need takeaway cutlery rather than giving it out automatically, many customers will be taking their food home to eat
  4. Offer items such as milk, sugar, butter, jam and condiments in larger containers or dispensers rather than individual single-use portion packs
  5. Design a poster that includes “customers in this shop use reusable coffee cups/bags to help protect the environment” and display it where your customers will see it
  6. Sell loose fruit and vegetables
  7. Sign up to the Refill app so that customers know they can eat, drink and shop with reduced waste at your business

[1] Eunomia. (2016). Plastics in the Marine Environment. Bristol: Eunomia Research & Consulting Ltd