MEET THE AUTHOR Lucy Siegle
The One Show presenter unwraps plastic pollution and offers a guide for change.
When did you notice plastic over-use?
When I was eight, my grandad – a retired scientific translator for Shell – told me how plastic was made from oil, and that oil was a precious resource. He would protest at checkouts about overpackaging – he was way ahead of his time.
What’s the worst example of plastic over-packaging you’ve come across?
In 2005 I saw a shrink-wrapped coconut in Morrisons. The excuse was that a child could inhale the fibrous hair from the shell.
Of the plastic we put on the kerbside, how much is recycled?
Official figures are problematic. According to statistics I’ve studied from various sources, I’d say about 12 per cent. But this may change now that China is turning away our low-grade plastic waste.
Where do UK countries come in recycling league tables?
England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not among the top ten world leaders. All are likely to struggle to meet the EU target for recycling – 50 per cent by 2020. Wales, however, ranks second in the global household recycling league table, just behind Germany, and is on track to meet its target of 70 per cent by 2025.
What’s the UK’s position in the single-use hall of shame?
Number five in the EU, partly because we are a heavily supermarketised culture. We also get through more cotton buds and sanitary towels than any other European nation, and are voracious straw-users. We would rank higher if not for the decline of smokers here – cigarette butts are a major plastic pollutant in the EU.
Who pays for UK plastic recycling?
UK residents bear 90 per cent of the cost of collection and disposal of plastic via council tax. Even if you consume very little on-thego food, you’re still paying for the clean-up.
What plastic crisis is yet to come?
Certain synthetic clothing can shed thousands of microfibres in a single washcycle. Scientists fear this could become a significant source of aquatic pollution – particularly as more and more people are able to afford washing machines.
Can the Blue planet effect last?
Fears abate or are replaced. The task now is to convert the energy into strategies to reduce the plastic in our lives. Much plastic is needless, so it isn’t hard to make a dent – and such changes bring many benefits. Get a grip of your bin, get a grip of your life!
Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the world four times.
Turning the Tide on Plastic £12.99, Trapeze