Greenpeace Edinburgh volunteers reveal truth about household plastic usage to locals on Portobello Promenade

Locals walking on Portobello Promenade on Sunday faced the reality of their plastic usage – after Greenpeace volunteers showed them a picture of six months’ worth of plastic for one person.

Passers-by were asked to guess how many people’s plastic was displayed in the photograph. Their answers ranged from one household to 100 people, but only a few people correctly guessed that it was just one individual’s plastic waste.

Joan, a local from Marchmont, said: “I was amazed that one person used so much plastic in 6 months. I put the plastic I use in the recycling bin, so I’m disappointed to hear that lots of that plastic might not actually be recycled, but is in fact often incinerated, sent to landfill, or dumped abroad. It’s up to the Government and big supermarkets to cut plastic packaging, and to properly deal with our waste.”

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Greenpeace Edinburgh volunteers were visiting Portobello as part of The Big Plastic Count campaign, which will take place from May 16 – 22. The collaboration between Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic hopes to uncover the truth about how much household plastic the public throws away, and how much is really recycled.

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Individuals, households, schools, community groups and businesses are being asked to count their plastic packaging waste, record the different types they throw away and submit their results online. So far, more than 140,000 people from across the UK, including more than 650 households in Edinburgh, have signed up to participate.

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The campaign is supported by Harry Potter actor Bonnie Wright, as well as naturalist and television presenter, Chris Packham.

Zoë, a volunteer from Newington, said: “We’re all doing our bit to recycle, but plastic waste is still everywhere. It’s so sad to see it polluting the environment in beautiful areas such as Portobello Beach.

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Volunteers showed Edinburgh locals a picture of the plastic waste created by one person in six months.

“That’s why I’m counting my plastic for one week between 16th - 22nd May, and submitting this data to get my personal plastic footprint, to find out what really happens to our plastic waste."

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The launch of The Big Plastic Count comes as new polling from YouGov, commissioned by Greenpeace UK, revealed that more than four in five people want the UK Government to introduce targets to reduce plastic waste. Backing is also very high across Scotland, with 82% supporting targets.

The YouGov survey also shows how almost 4 in 5 people in the UK recycle plastic products in order to reduce plastic waste. However, three in four don’t know what happens to their plastic recycling after disposing of it.

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The UK Government is set to decide on legal targets to reduce plastic waste this year. Greenpeace Edinburgh is calling on the Government to set a target to reduce single-use plastic by 50% by 2025, to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic re-use and recycling, and ban the dumping of our waste onto other countries.

Greenpeace volunteers campaigning in Portobello on Sunday, May 8.
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The UK produces more plastic waste per person than almost any other country in the world - second only to the USA . In 2018, the UK generated 5.2 million tonnes, enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times over.

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