People are pleading with supermarkets to reduce plastic by writing on packaging and lids and returning them to their local stores after a call to action by campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
As part of his new TV programme, Hugh’s War on Plastic, Fearnley-Whittingstall called for members of the public to write their ‘plastic feedback’ on packaging and deliver to supermarkets to highlight their desire to change, and share on social media under the hashtag #OurPlasticFeedback.
The final episode of the three-part series aired on BBC 1 last night (24 June) and covered the issue of plastic toys given away by fast-food chains, as well as the rate of production of new plastic by manufacturers such as Ineon.
It featured two young children arriving at the headquarters of McDonald’s with a petition to remove plastic toys from kids’ meals, only to be turned away abruptly by a security guard. The incident was widely criticised on social media, and the girls’ petition on change.org now has over 185,000 signatures.
The primetime show featured several high-profile cameos and endorsements, including Sir David Attenborough, who said: “Supermarkets, for the sake of the planet, less plastic please.” Other celebrities including singer KT Tunstall and chef Prue Leith also joined the campaign.
Greenpeace oceans campaigner Elena Polisano said: “We need to move away from a throwaway culture, we need to move away from single use towards a new model of reuse and refill.”
It comes in a week when MPs debated banning non-recyclable food packaging following a petition from almost 250,000 people.
The petition statement said: “Today the Earth is at a crisis point due to our plastic consumption, and as a result, people in the UK are more willing than ever to engage in recycling.
“Yet so much food packaging remains completely, frustratingly unrecyclable. Let's aim for the UK to lead the world with a 100% recycling rate.”
Speaking in parliament, Labour MP Daniel Zeichner, who opened the debate, said: “The plastic bag charge was discussed over many years, and it has now taken 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation. Imagine what proper fiscal incentives and taxes could do to change the way our society considers waste and how committed we all are to recycling.”
MP Neil Parish added: “The government will probably have to be braver on this issue and give stricter advice to local authorities on how they recycle and on having a similar system across the country.”
After listening to the debate and despite the petition, agriculture minister Robert Goodwill, said the government currently has “no plans to ban the use of food packaging that cannot be recycled”.
“Our general approach is to help people and companies make the right choice and develop alternatives, rather than ban items outright. We have already banned the inclusion of plastic microbeads, and…we will be banning the supply of plastic drinking straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England from April 2020.”
Goodwill noted that the government has, under its recent Waste and Resources Strategy, outlined plans for the manufacturer of plastic to be responsible for the end destination and environmental impact of their products.
“A key proposal is that producers fund the net cost of managing the packaging that they place on the market once it becomes waste,” he added.