The Big Plastic Count

The Big Plastic Count information pack

It's citizen science week here at VP Gardens as I've signed up to take part in The Big Plastic Count which starts today. The aim of the count is to gather data from as many households as possible on how much and the kinds of plastic we throw away as part of our everyday lives. Around 150,000 households are said to be taking part, including myself and at least one of my friends.

Once the results are in, the organisations involved will have a better picture of the scale of the problem we face here in the UK. They also will have better facts to take to government (both local and national) and the organisations who create or use the plastic - such as food companies - to lobby for alternative packaging solutions.

Like with any project of this kind I'm sure the results will lead to further questions and the potential need to drill down further in the data. Whilst there are 19 categories of plastic in the survey, many of them are quite broad and only give an idea of numbers not volume. For instance one of my pieces of plastic this morning is the small wrapper which goes around a milk bottle. This sits alongside much larger items such as carrier bags and in this count has the same 'weight' as its larger cousins.

The plastic rubbish we generated first thing on Monday morning

Nineteen categories might seem a lot, but on the whole I've found it quick and easy to assign this morning's plastic. I've also used the online help to decide where to put pet food pouches and a yoghurt pot lid.

I was prepared to be quite shocked at my individual results, but not this early in the count! Just a couple of hours of our usual activities - breakfast, feeding the cats and preparing NAH's healthy packed lunch - has generated 12 items of plastic in 9 categories, with just 5 of them going into our recycling bin. It's time for some thinking about the way we live our lives.

If you'd like to take part, you can download the survey form, or complete your tally online at the end of the week. There's also lots more information, FAQS and categorisation help on The Big Plastic Count website.


  1. I saw a news item about this survey yesterday VP. It's incomprehensible just how much surplus wrapping there is and even more of a challenge if you're shopping for food and household supplies online .Thank for the links.

    1. You're welcome. I think the results are due out in July and I hope to report on that and my own personal results

  2. We had a zero waste shop - but - bad timing and other issues - it has folded. The deodorant I preferred because they offered refill pouches, has been bought up by a large Indian company and no longer bothers with the less waste offer. Sad.

    1. We have one too - but it's soon to be had I fear. They're relocating out of the centre of town and I'm not sure how well that is going to work


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