New report shows the UK population throws away over 295 billion pieces of plastic every year.


The Everyday Plastic report not only exposes the sheer diversity and volume of single-use plastic we all have to navigate daily, but as alarmingly, the inadequacy of current recycling systems, which only return a paltry amount of material back to shop shelves’

– Hugo Tagholm | CEO at Surfers Against Sewage


Everyday Plastic: What we throw away and where it goes


Have you ever thought about the amount of rubbish you throw away, and its end destination?

One man took this thought and turned it into action.

Motivated by plastic pollution, marketer and plastics activist Daniel Webb endeavoured on a unique personal experiment to understand exactly what he throws away and where it ends up.

Over the course of one year Webb collected all his throwaway plastics which he then catalogued, weighed and analysed alongside the assistance of Dr Julie Schneider. Together the duo uncovered shocking stats and evidence based facts on the reality of our individual and collective plastic consumption as well as the negligence of the recycling system in the UK.

In the form of a cutting edge report, Everyday Plastic: what we throw away and where it goes rigorously examines Webb’s annual consumption of plastic and shines a light on brand new never-seen-before statistics including the amount of food packaging used in a year to the amount of plastic waste exported to other countries.


Key findings

  • Over the course of one year, Webb threw away 4,490 pieces of plastic
  • The UK throws away over 295 billion pieces of plastics every year
  • 93% of his collected plastic waste was single-use packaging
  • 67% of Webb’s throwaway plastic was used to package, wrap and consume food
  • 70% of the plastic that Webb threw away in a year is not currently recyclable
  • Only 4% of Webb’s collection of plastic waste would be recycled at UK recycling facilities


Designs for change

The report itself is 100% independent and the data collection, research, analysis and writing has been completed in Webb & Schneider’s free time without external interests or funding. Renowned UK plastic pollution charity (and friends of Leap) Surfers Against Sewage has supported the release and promotion of the report, as well as contributing to funding the design work.

As for the designs, Leap have been busy bringing the report to life, supporting the valuable content and amplifying it. Overall, our design for change studio has put in over 100 hours of creative time and direction to bring the report alive with Webb and Dr Schneider as well as working with Hugo Tagholm of Surfers Against Sewage to do their section.

When creating our infographics we used David McCandless of Information is Beautiful as the reference to present the simple yet complex information. Our aim was to create easy to digest infographics that would be used across social platforms to inform and advocate change.  


Why is this report so important?

This reports provides us with what we’ve been looking for; clear, factual evidence on how much individuals contribute to the issue, who is responsible for the manufacturing of single-use plastics, how much (or in this case how little) of our plastics are being recycled in the UK,  the percentage of plastics being used to create new plastics and how much energy and natural resources we are burning through to produce new plastic waste.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time, what with the European Parliament recently approving the ban of single-use plastics by 2021 and the UK’s recycling system under investigation for fraud and corruption.

Armed with this report, we can use the information accrued from Webb and Dr Schneider’s finding as a useful and change-making resource in our fight against plastic pollution.

‘If I’d have given up plastic bottles, coffee cups, straws, stirrers, cutlery, carrier bags and swapped shower gel for soap, I would’ve thrown away 316 fewer items in 2017. If only half of the UK population did the same thing we could prevent 10 billion pieces from entering the waste system. So don’t let anyone tell you that individuals can’t make a difference’

– Daniel Webb | Everyday Plastics 


Download the report

You can download the report by visiting the Everyday Plastics website.

Interested in a design for change collaboration? We’d be more than happy to support you with sustainable designs for print & the web, green web hosting, branding with purpose and all other creative needs. Talk to the studio on 017261 75551 |

Find out more about Leap’s services here.



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Imogen Coleman

Author Imogen Coleman

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