Stock image of rubbish on a beach - Credit: TDC
Stock image of rubbish on a beach - Credit: TDC

How to take part in the Big Plastic Count Campaign

Joseph Bulmer

Two Northern Devon Councils have united with local environmental charity Plastic Free North Devon (PFND) to encourage people, schools and businesses to take part in the national Big Plastic Count Campaign being organised by Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic during 16-22 May.

Both North Devon and Torridge Councils already work extensively with residents to recycle plastic through kerbside collections, recycling a whopping 1,497 tonnes of plastic between them last year.

However, the national count aims to show that too much plastic continues to be used in packaging, and much of it of a type that can’t easily be recycled. The campaign hopes to build evidence of the scale of the problem and to help people better understand just how much plastic they receive and handle in any given week.

The outcomes will then be used to convince the government, brands and supermarkets to do more to tackle the problem at source, as mounting evidence suggests that recycling alone will not solve the problem or be enough to prevent the ongoing harm to the environment and ultimately to us.

The Big Count coincides with a government timetable, which later this year will decide future targets for plastic waste reduction, and the organisers hope that by gathering more evidence this will strengthen the case for more ambitious action plans.

Free resources have been created for households to record the plastics they recycle or throw away during the week and there are packs for Schools and Businesses to get involved as well. The organisers will also keep the online submission channel for results open until the 31st May so that Schools and others can adapt the count to a time that suits them.

Every person or organisation submitting their count will get a personal plastic footprint from the data they provide along with more details of what happens to the plastic when it leaves their homes or premises.

Donna Sibley – Sustainability and Climate Officer at North Devon and Torridge Councils said: “Helping all of us focus on just how much plastic is generated in a single week of counting will hopefully reveal the scale of the plastic problem, which we can then use to promote change for the better.

“As well as a raw count, Daniel Webb the founder of Everyday Plastic, has developed a unique methodology for individuals to calculate and see their own plastic footprint, which I’m sure individuals, and families with children will find fun and interesting to reveal. Change has to start somewhere and the Big Plastic Count is being launched at just the right time to help make a difference.”

Claire Moodie, CEO of Plastic Free North Devon said: “Plastic Free North Devon was founded to tackle plastic pollution head on by raising awareness, reducing consumption and helping to clear it away from our environment. The Big Plastic Count ticks all those boxes and with peoples help we can generate the numbers that will show the often-hidden scale of the problem of plastics in our supply chain.

“It is crucial that large cooperation’s urgently reduce the amount of associated product waste they are forcing into our communities and provide the tools to help consumers reduce their plastic footprint.

“Legislation is essential to making this happen and we hope as many people as possible will be able to support Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic in this timely initiative, which can then hopefully be used to evidence the call for change so drastically needed.”

Signup for the Big Plastic Count here https://thebigplasticcount.com/