What’s the problem with Plastics?

Plastics are exceptionally useful and versatile materials, now an integral part of our daily lives.

Unfortunately, plastics contribute to pollution in numerous ways. While plastics are easily recycled, new (virgin) plastics are manufactured from fossil fuels. If that wasn’t bad enough, the uncontrolled disposal of plastics can pose severe threats to the environment. From clogging our oceans to endangering wildlife, the impacts of plastic pollution are far-reaching:

Water pollution:

Over 8 million tons of plastic find their way into the oceans annually, creating vast garbage patches and threatening marine ecosystems.

Wet-wipes containing plastics clog sewage systems, drains, and even shape river beds.

Marine animals can mistake plastic debris for food, leading to ingestion and subsequent health issues. This poses a risk not only to individual creatures but also to the entire food chain.

Land Pollution:

Improper disposal of plastic on land contributes to soil degradation and disrupts natural ecosystems.

Plastic waste in landfills releases harmful chemicals into the soil, affecting plant life and potentially contaminating groundwater.

Air Pollution:

Plastic production and incineration release toxic pollutants into the air, contributing to air pollution and climate change. Micro-plastics can even be found in the air that we breathe

The burning of plastic waste releases greenhouse gases, further exacerbating environmental problems.

What can I do about it?

Refuse, Reduce and Re-Use Plastics:

We can avoid plastics where possible. We can buy vegetables and fruit loose,

take reusable containers to the shop, and refill water bottles.


Most plastics can be recycled. Find out about the local recycling guidelines.

Choose Sustainable Packaging:

Wy not support businesses that prioritize sustainable packaging? Look for products with minimal or eco-friendly packaging and those made from recycled materials.

Participate in Clean-Up Initiatives:

Join local litter picks and community initiatives to remove plastic waste from our footpaths, streams, and meadows. These efforts contribute to a cleaner environment and raise awareness about the issue.

Speak up:

Spread awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution and share tips on reducing plastic use with your community.

Make your voice heard. Ask your elected representatives to support policies that regulate plastic production, promote recycling, and encourage businesses to adopt sustainable practices.

Every individual plays a role in preserving our planet. By taking small, conscious steps to reduce plastic consumption, we can collectively make a significant impact on the environment. Our actions today shape the world for future generations, and together, we can create a healthier, more sustainable planet.

Find out more about plastics by reading our Information Sheet No 4 Plastics (revised August 2021).

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