The huge amount of plastic packaging, cardboard and wrapping paper dumped in landfill at Christmas has been highlighted by group of environmental and animal welfare charities as they make a fresh call for action to cut waste.
New figures from Wildlife and Countryside Link estimate that:
The charities, which include Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, are particularly highlighting plastic waste because it degrades so slowly and is having such a devastating impact on the oceans. They are calling for strong commitments from businesses and government to reduce excessive packaging waste, and for the public to give a gift to the environment this Christmas and recycle as much glass, paper, card, metal, foil and wood, as well as plastic, as possible.
Louise Edge, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace, said: ‘Christmas is the time of year when you can really see just how much plastic packaging there is, and how little of it is genuinely useful. Manufacturers and retailers say that’s what we want – lots of brightly coloured mixed material packaging made with virgin plastic. But as the BBC series Blue Planet has shown us, plastic packaging isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life. And then some. If oceans full of indestructible plastic waste isn’t what you asked for, write a letter to Santa letting him know. And don’t forget to send a copy to Coca Cola, your local supermarket and your MP.”
Dr Elaine King, director at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: ‘These figures shine a light on the harsh reality of the impact we have on our environment and wildlife. Our waste can be invisible to us once it’s in the bin. So it is easy to forget that it ends up in landfill or finds its way into our rivers and seas – polluting our land, oceans, animals, fish, birds and insects. We need to give a gift to the environment and get our packaging waste under control.”
The NGOs are urging the UK government to take the following actions to both discourage companies and individuals from using throwaway plastic and incentivise sustainable alternatives:
Top tips for recycling at Christmas: