global sustainable development

UK to mismanage quarter of a million tonnes of plastic waste this year

MISMANAGED short life plastic waste in the United Kingdom is estimated to total more than 256,000
tonnes by the end of this year, according to new research by EA Earth Action.

More than 149,000 tonnes of short life plastic waste is also expected to be exported in 2023.

The report specifically focuses on short life plastic waste originating from solid waste management
systems and encompassing plastic packaging and single use plastics. Textiles, long-lasting plastic
products and industrial plastics are excluded from the study.

Out of 157 days of plastic overshoot planned in 2023, the United Kingdom will be responsible for 14.1

EA Earth Action has established 10 country archetypes which includes tailored policy recommendations
for every country in the world, with the United Kingdom categorised as a ‘Transactor’.

The Transactors are wealthy countries mostly in the West that export and import a lot of waste usually
from neighbouring countries. Policy recommendations includes speeding up the transition to circular
systems and reducing plastic consumption.

The global average consumption of short-life plastic per person per year is 20.9 kilograms. But the
average plastic consumption per capita in the UK is 31.1 kilograms.

A ban on some single-use plastics will be introduced by the UK Government in October 2023.

And the United Kingdom is part of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution pledged to end
plastic pollution by 2040.

But the total short life plastic consumption in the country in 2023 already amounts to more than two
million tonnes of waste.

This translates to almost 60,000 tonnes of microplastics released in waterways. And more than 1,500
tonnes of chemical additives which can have harmful impacts on ecosystems and human health.

Sarah Perreard, Co-CEO and Stakeholder Engagement Lead at EA Earth Action said: “Plastic pollution is
a global crisis, but every country must play their part. INC-2 negotiations in Paris clearly showed that oil
producing countries are on a very different agenda than countries who see a circular economy as an

“If the UK wants to show real leadership on this issue, it must prioritise significantly reducing its plastic
consumption, implement effective reusable packaging schemes, and join the 13 European countries
that have already introduced a functioning and effective Deposit Return Scheme.

“A robust and equitable Global Plastics Treaty is possible, and it can be if it is backed by the science and
data, like in our Plastic Overshoot Day 2023 report.”

Global Plastic Overshoot Day is forecasted to take place on 28 July 2023.

EA Earth Action was previously known as EA Environmental Action.

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