Reduce, reuse, recycle is a long-standing mantra, encouraging us to be more responsible in the way we deal with waste. We have become accustomed to the ease and convenience of buying our groceries in single-use packaging, so much so that still it is often difficult to avoid buying fruit and veg in plastic. An enormous proportion of this packaging can't be recycled.
But in the last two years there has been a growing, and very welcome, drive towards consumers questioning the nature and necessity of single-use plastic packaging. Prime-time documentaries and social media have helped focus our attention on some of the startling statistics, and indeed flaws, around the way our plastic waste is dealt with, and its severe impact on our environment.
Recycling alone is very unlikely to cope with the incredible volume of plastic currently entering the system. Consumers’ demands are rapidly beginning to change.
Retailers and supermarkets, as well as policy-makers, are starting to respond – the reduction in the number of plastic bags, straws and stirrers we are using is certainly one step in the right direction, but there is a more fundamental shift necessary, to make it drastically easier to reduce and reuse all types of packaging.
It has certainly started, but I hope this shift will ultimately give consumers the choice, and the opportunity, to continue to challenge deep-seated habits for the benefit of our environment.
It is estimated the UK uses five million tonnes of plastic every year - nearly half of which is packaging - and demand is rising.