UK’s Largest Household Plastic Waste Survey Returns Following Government Inaction

The return of Greenpeace UK and Everyday Plastic's The Big Plastic Count represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the public to influence the UN Global Plastics Treaty.



  • The Big Plastic Count will gather evidence about the scale of UK plastic waste to help ministers lead the way in negotiating an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty. 
  • Over 30,000 participants, including 3,800 school classes, signed up to count plastic 11-17 March 2024. 
  • Photos and video are available here.

London, UK, Monday 29 January 2024 – From Devon to Dundee, across all 650 parliamentary constituencies, more than 30,000 participants are ready to count their plastic waste as registration opens for The Big Plastic Count, including 3,800 school classes and 2,300 teachers. The return of the UK’s largest survey into household plastic waste is set to take place on 11-17 March 2024.

The national plastic-counting campaign returns for its second time and sees Greenpeace UK and the non-profit organisation Everyday Plastic invite individuals, households, schools, community groups and businesses to take part in the largest plastic investigation of its kind. University of PortsmouthTearfundThe Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Surfers Against Sewage are among the organisations supporting the campaign.

“The Big Plastic Count 2024 could be the tipping point for UK government action on plastic. The first Count saw the British public spend a combined 2,500 days, or 7 years, counting our plastic rubbish to prove we’re drowning in plastic and can’t simply recycle our way out of the problem. However, the UK government still hasn’t set a legally binding plastic reduction target. Now we’re back to gather even more proof so that UK politicians have no excuse not to act on plastic waste at home and overseas. The Big Plastic Count 2024 is special because ministers can take our evidence to important UN Global Plastics Treaty talks in order to push for a new binding international agreement to reduce plastic production by at least 75% by 2040. Plastic waste is a global problem, and together, we can make sure it is tackled globally.” Laura Burley, Project Lead, The Big Plastic Count, Greenpeace UK

Participant statistics from The Big Plastic Count will generate unique data on how much plastic packaging waste leaves UK homes. Campaigners will use the results to confront UK ministers with the scale of the plastic waste problem and push them to lead the way at the next round of negotiations for the Global Plastics Treaty set to be held in Ottawa, Canada, from April 23 to April 29. The treaty could lead to a legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution – but it will only deliver the kind of ambitious action needed if countries like the UK push for agreement to reduce plastic production by at least 75% by 2040 and speed up the introduction of innovative reuse and refill models.

“The plastic crisis hasn’t gone away but our government is still tinkering at the edges of meaningful action. Recycling systems can’t cope with the volume of plastic packaging we use, so the government and companies must act to turn off the tap at the source. Since Blue Planet II in 2018, the public has been clamouring for action on plastic pollution and, six years later, the government has run out of excuses. In this election year we urge you to join us for the return of The Big Plastic Count. We need UK ministers to stand up and push for an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty that radically reduces plastic production and accelerates national reuse and refill systems.” Nina Schrank, Head of Plastics, Greenpeace UK

Almost a quarter of a million people participated in The Big Plastic Count in 2022, revealing:

  • UK households throw nearly two billion pieces of plastic packaging away weekly.
  • Just 12% is recycled in the UK, with the rest being burned, shipped abroad, or languished in landfills.
  • 83% of plastic recorded was from food and drink packaging waste, the most common item being fruit and vegetable packaging.

“Having counted my plastic waste for an entire year, I know exactly how powerful this investigation can be in helping to understand the true extent of the plastic problem. Nearly 250,000 people took part in The Big Plastic Count in 2022, coming together to show that urgent change is not just what we need, but what we want. The Big Plastic Count is a simple yet impactful way to discover your household plastic footprint whilst contributing vital evidence to pressure our government to lead the way at the Global Plastics Treaty talks.” Daniel Webb, Founder and Director, Everyday Plastic

Although the previous campaign galvanised the British public to demand action on plastic, national policy hasn’t progressed at the speed required. After six years of promises, the government has banned a few items like plastic straws, plates, trays, cutlery and balloon sticks while delaying more systemic measures like a deposit return scheme and completely failing to bring in binding plastic reduction targets. Banning a small number of individual plastic items will not lead to a meaningful reduction in single-use plastic overall. The Big Plastic Count has demonstrated that plastic food packaging is the biggest contributor to plastic waste and needs addressing most urgently.

Thousands of people shared their results from The Big Plastic Count 2022 with MPs and called for achievable policies to tackle the plastic waste crisis. Greenpeace is now calling on the government to:

  • Reduce plastic production by at least 75% by 2040 and speed up the introduction of innovative reuse and refill models.
  • Completely ban all plastic waste exports by 2027 at the latest.
  • Immediately implement an all-in Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requirements for recycling and reuse.
  • End approvals for new incineration facilities.

An ambitious new UN Global Plastics Treaty focused on fundamentally reducing plastic production and use at source has the potential to provide an indispensable international framework to drive more domestic policy action by countries across the world – such as the policies mentioned above.

“The natural world can’t cope with all our plastic rubbish. We’ve been calling for action on plastic for years, but the government hasn’t listened. That’s why this year, The Big Plastic Count is gathering even more evidence to push for plastic action in the UK and also globally, in a new UN Global Plastics Treaty focused on reducing plastic production. I’ve signed up for The Big Plastic Count. Will you sign up, too?” Chris Packham, Wildlife TV Presenter & Conservationist 

“Our school is delighted to be a part of The Big Plastic Count again, a new generation of fresh eyes are raring to go. Our pupils, even the younger ones, realise the enormity of the plastic problem, which continues to damage the environment, the oceans and wildlife. They are passionate to be a part of a real solution. Having already lobbied an MP as part of The Big Plastic Count previously, our school would like to use the evidence gathered to spur on even more influential adults to take action now, in helping to sort out this global plastic problem.” Rebecca Razzaque, Head of Year 5 at Kenmore Park Junior School in Harrow, The Big Plastic Count 2024 Participant 

“We’re stoked to be taking part in The Big Plastic Count. The government continues to drag its heels on plastic pollution, and we’re not going to sit back and let it happen. Continuing to build on our citizen science programmes, we’re supporting our Ocean Activists to get involved in The Big Plastic Count and show decision-makers just how much plastic we’re dealing with.” James Luxton, Head of Communities, Surfers Against Sewage 

Every thirty seconds, someone dies from a disease linked to plastic pollution and rubbish. For people living in poverty, there is no time to waste. The Big Plastic Count is a great opportunity for thousands of us in the UK to come together and show we want this plastics crisis solved. It’s a powerful reminder to the Government that people across the UK and worldwide are getting on with tackling plastic pollution. We need global politicians ensuring we get a strong Global Plastics Treaty agreed upon this year.” Richard Gower, Senior Economist, Tearfund

Everyday Plastic founder Daniel Webb collected every piece of his plastic waste for a whole year and developed a unique methodology alongside a scientific researcher to calculate his plastic footprint. Now, The Big Plastic Count offers the public the same chance to discover what happens to their plastic waste once they throw it away.

Registration is now open to sign up for The Big Plastic Count 2024: 




Ray Hopkinson, Kibbo Kift Agency – 07717721441

Alex Sedgwick, Greenpeace UK – 07973873155


Notes to editor:

About The Big Plastic Count 

British Science WeekCommon SeasThe Duke of Edinburgh’s AwardFriends of the Earth ScotlandGreen Schools ProjectKids Against PlasticLet’s Go ZeroMinistry of Eco EducationStudents Organising for Sustainability UKSurfers Against SewageTearfundUniversity of Portsmouth and the Young People’s Trust for the Environment are among the organisations supporting the campaign.

The Big Plastic Count website and sign-up page are available here
The Big Plastic Count launch video is available here
Photos and videos for The Big Plastic Count are available here

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