The amount of plastic waste in UK homes increased during the coronavirus lockdown, a survey suggests.
Some 483 people in 179 households took part in the Everyday Plastic Survey, by recording the amount of plastic waste they produced for a week during lockdown.
The results show they collected almost 23,000 pieces of rubbish between them.
The highest amount collected by one home was 734 pieces of plastic, while the lowest was 17. On average, each household used 128 pieces of plastic during the week – up from 99 in similar surveys.
PPE is now common among plastic bottles and packaging polluting our rivers and oceans.
Scaled up, that equates to 3.6 billion pieces being thrown away each week in the UK.
The total included around 1,960 pieces of fruit and vegetable packaging and more than 2,950 snack wrappers.
The scheme, started by Daniel Webb, was launched in 2018 with a household survey in an attempt to show people the scale of the global plastic problem.
Data on a week’s plastic usage is submitted by each household, which can then receive its own plastic footprint and information on where the waste goes.
During lockdown, the survey found that more than two-thirds of the plastic waste, 68%, was from food and drink products, of which a tiny amount would end up being recycled.
Around 65% of the waste was the soft, film-type plastic that is rarely recycled in the UK.
Only 37% of the plastic waste that was collected was considered to be recyclable by local councils, and only 5% would actually end up being recycled, according to Mr Webb.
He added that during the first few weeks of the coronavirus lockdown there were grocery shortages and stockpiling, meaning that there were limited packaging-free choices.
“The outcome of the Everyday Plastic Survey supports assumptions that domestic plastic waste increased under lockdown conditions, particularly fruit and veg packaging, snack wrappers, parcel bags and PPE,” Mr Webb said.
“The Everyday Plastic Survey is designed to fast track our awareness and understanding, which in turn leads to more responsible consumer choices.
“We believe that this encourages – or ultimately obliges – businesses and governments to improve their practice and policy.”
The survey will run throughout 2021 as a nationwide campaign.