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  1. ITV Report

Plastic pollution: What can I do?

What can we do to reduce plastic waste? Credit: ITV News Central

Plastic pollution has made the headlines in recent months with the government promising to tackle the problem around the country.

The largest amount of single-use plastic waste coming from the food and drink sector, so what can you do to help reduce your plastic waste?

As part of our plastic pollution series, we have spoken to people across the Midlands who are helping find a solution.

  • Reusable bottles

The UK uses 13 billion plastic bottles a year, yet only 7.5 billion of those are recycled. The rest is taken to landfills, incinerated or littered and it costs councils on average of £778 million a year to clear it up.

A reusable bottle can be the answer to reducing plastic bottle waste, however ITV News Central found that there were only a handful of public water fountains in the region.

Nicole Barratt-Phillips offers people free water refills to encourage buying more plastic bottles Credit: ITV News Central

Now some businesses are trying to change that by providing free refills to whoever wants one.

Nicole Barratt-Phillips runs a grocery store in Hednesford and has signed up to the refill scheme, an app that shows users where they can get a free drink of water.

Hopefully, people will use it - even if it's a bought plastic bottle, they'll use their plastic bottles to refill again and maybe not buy so many in the future. Or use their sports bottles to top up so they don't go to the shop and buy plastic bottles.

– Nicole Barratt-Phillips, grocery store owner
  • Recycling

Recycling items is one way to reduce waste and the impact on the environment. Plastics can only be recycled a few times before it becomes unusable, but recycling materials still reduces plastic pollution.

Veolia run a recycling plant in Mansfield Credit: ITV News Central

Veolia, who run a recycling plant in Mansfield, are advising people to separate their rubbish properly in order for them to recycle it properly and ultimately save money in the long run.

It should be simple for the household but don't put any food waste, wet or organic waste in dry recycling because that will contaminate your recycling and ultimately it will cost the local authority more money to recycle that material and it's not good for the area.

So separate what's wet, what's green and what's dry and we'll do the rest at our end.

– Richard Kirkman, Veolia

The company is also calling for a unified recycling systems around councils across the UK to make it easier for households.

  • Being ‘plastic clever’

Some councils, like Gedling Borough Council, have pledged to become a 'plastic clever' authority.

This is where they aim to reduce their use of single-use plastics.

Gedling Borough Council is providing free reusable bottles at council-run leisure centres Credit: ITV News Central

The council plans to phase out all sales of plastic, such as bottles, cutlery and straws and even provide free reusable bottles at council-run leisure centres.

We're not going to stop because there's a big money sign that says you can't do this.

Nowadays we have to think and we have to phase it, it might be one year, it might be three years, even five years down the line we might still be doing something, but we're doing something every year and it's every year we're making that little impact.

And if that little impact is taken across the UK or the whole of Europe then I think we can make a massive dent in the amount of stuff's that thrown away.

– Councillor John Clarke

Jenny Derry from Staffordshire has started running a plastic free shop online from the bedroom of her parents' home.

She decided to run 'Anything But Plastic' after growing tired of the amount of plastic packaging in shops.

The business has taken off and she's reported a £17,000 turnover in just four months.

A lot of the time we just don't know what we're buying and where plastic has come in, it's just crept up on us and we haven't really noticed. So now people are aware of it and they see it everywhere and they realise what a bad thing it is.

To have alternatives that you can go to and businesses that are really trying to do their best to stop, it is something that people are really responding to.

– Jenny Derry, Anything But Plastic

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