There is no escaping the news regarding single-use plastics. The government has raged war on plastic straws, cotton buds, and drink stirrers as part of a campaign to cut single-use plastic. IBanPlastic have some interesting facts regarding the huge numbers of single-use plastics.

“With over 43 billion plastic straws, 13.2 billion cotton buds, and 44.1 billion plastic stirrers being used in the UK every year”.

Since the launch of the Government’s plan in 2018 and the deluge of press releases from almost every news outlet across the UK, it was clear to see companies starting to jump on this message of banning single-use plastics. McDonald’s, for example, launched their huge campaign about being green and protecting the environment because they have now banned a single-use plastic; their plastic straws.

But what does that actually mean? So yes, there will be a small percentage decrease in that huge 43 billion plastic straws usage figure. But, what about the drink lids? The drink cups? The pots of sauce? These are all single-use plastics which food outlets like this continue to use, every single day.

There is no escaping messages around this, Solero is banning the wrappers on ice lollies in their bid to cut back on single-use plastic.  Emirates are banning plastic straws and stirrers from all flights and it is great to see so many big corporations getting on board with this, but is it enough?

We all understand how ‘bad’ single-use plastic is but banning one aspect of this from one corporation isn’t going to stop the huge levels of pollution. It is all smoke and mirrors and makes it very difficult for the public to differentiate between the many different types of plastic to understand which is good and which is bad. 

plastic waste on a beach | Tri-pack

The world needs plastic

The one thing which is missing from all of these ‘plastics are bad’ messages is that not all plastics are harmful. We do actually need plastic. There is not an alternative material in existence for some of the uses which we require plastic. Single-use plastic is bad. It uses a lot of resources to create and usually ends up in landfills or oceans. But plastics which can be used time and time again, which can be cleaned and recycled are not the enemy in this war. 

The propaganda machines turn out confusing messages where what is really needed is education and clear guidance helping consumers to make informed buying decisions. 

The press creates sensationalist messages which businesses jump on the bandwagon with to help improve their corporate image. The facts need addressing, the difference in plastics need addressing and the positives of some plastics need addressing. Only then can we understand the real picture. The true level of pollution. The companies which really are doing their bit for the environment, not just appearing like they are.