The Big Plastic Count: Greenpeace lifts the lid on the state of the UK's recycling

Greenpeace UK and Everyday Plastic have collaborated with creative agency Enviral to launch The Big Plastic Count, which asked households to keep track of their plastic use. Now the results are in, and they've found that the government is talking trash about our plastic problem.

How much plastic do you think you go through in a week? The odd bottle cap here, a bit of shrink wrap there. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it all adds up. But while we all try to do our bit by recycling as much as we can, is the government keeping up its end of the bargain? Apparently not, according to the recent findings of The Big Plastic Count.

Taking place through May, The Big Plastic Count tasked UK households with monitoring their plastic usage. It was the biggest ever investigation into UK household plastics and saw participants count over 96 billion pieces of plastic. Now that the numbers have been crunched, Greenpeace UK and Enviral have uncovered that only 12% of our plastic waste is recycled, with 17% exported abroad, 25% sent to landfills and 46% incinerated.

At every stage of this investigation into our plastic usage, purpose-driven creative agency Enviral has worked closely with The Big Plastic Count team to develop a narrative via three hard-hitting films. These include a launch film outlining the campaign, a how-to video demonstrating how participants could get involved, and the shocking results video, which aims to pressure the government to act.

"The plastic crisis is out of control, but if the government acts, we can get a grip on the problem," says Chris Thorne, Plastics Campaigner at Greenpeace UK. "That's why The Big Plastic Count is so important. Getting the narrative right on a campaign like this can be make or break. Through Enviral's understanding of our needs and their collaborative approach they've helped us create assets we know the public will connect with and will lead to more and more people pushing the government to take ambitious action to end the plastic waste problem."

Joss Ford, Enviral Founder, added: "We've been consistently beating the drum around the role of creatives in fighting the climate crisis and connecting hearts and minds. So being able to partner with such an impactful organisation like Greenpeace UK is a huge moment for our team and one which we hope brings real impact and holds those in power accountable."

The Big Plastic Count is merely part of Greenpeace UK's broader mission to defend the natural world from destruction and its goal of creating a healthier and more peaceful planet that can sustain life for future generations. The campaign grew out of The Everyday Plastic Survey, pioneered by Everyday Plastic – a research-led non-profit focused on evidence-based education and campaigns.

With The Big Plastic Count, Greenpeace UK and Enviral want to mobilise and inspire the UK population to lift the lid on its recycling habits. By doing so, it hopes the campaign will hold the government to account for its recycling goals and claims and ultimately bring about real and positive change.

Having already earned its stripes as an ethical brand communications agency, Bristol-based studio Enviral was awarded the contract for The Big Plastic Count after a competitive pitching process. By leveraging its ability to tell stories that affect real change for generations to come, here's hoping the hard work they put into The Big Plastic Count leads to some positive results.


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