Wet wipe on beach Natasha Ewins

Unlikely offenders: the hidden plastics in everyday products

2 minute read

Victoria Riglen, Head of Communications and Campaigns

21 Jun 2021

  • 82% of British adults support mandatory labelling for single-use products containing plastic
  • Aldi is only UK retailer adopting new EU single-use plastic labelling by 3rd July 2021 deadline
  • Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge begins next week

From wet wipes to cigarette filters and ‘paper’ cups, many of the products we use every day contain hidden plastics. In a recent survey for the Marine Conservation Society, YouGov found that the British public are largely supportive of measures to help reduce single-use plastics in our everyday lives.

The Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge, running throughout July, is a great opportunity to take small but impactful steps to reduce single-use plastic consumption. The Challenge, sponsored by plastic-free toilet roll brand Oceans, provides helpful guidance on how to phase out plastic in the hopes that some of the ocean-friendly habits adopted through July might remain.

With plastic pollution an ongoing and increasing concern for many, the Marine Conservation Society is calling for ambitious legislation to be put in place by UK governments to make identifying products which contain plastic easier. The charity believes individual actions to reduce single-use plastics should be supported by policy, to make avoiding single-use plastics easier.

The results of the charity’s recent survey show 82% of the British public surveyed support mandatory labelling for single-use products containing plastic.

With the European Union’s Single-Use Plastics Directive now in place, many products containing plastic in the EU will be required to include an on-pack ‘dead turtle’ logo, highlighting the impact of plastic products on the ocean. Products with the logo include wet wipes, sanitary products, tobacco product filters and beverage cups. However, this legislation doesn’t apply in the UK.

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society said: “We don’t want to be buying products with hidden plastics, and using them in our everyday lives. Better labelling is vital in helping us all to make responsible, ocean-friendly choices. In the UK, we’ve fallen behind the EU legislation which not only bans certain single-use products but also ensures companies raise awareness of the impact of their products and contribute to the cost of clean-up.

“We need to see UK governments urgently address and combat single-use plastic through legislative changes. Last year we recorded litter on our UK beaches at ten times the threshold value set by the EU*.”

The charity recently surveyed high street retailers to see how many UK supermarket brands would be adopting the EU’s new single-use plastic logos, which will be applied from 3rd July 2021. The results show that, though the labelling is optional for UK products, some high street retailers are planning to voluntarily use the EU labelling alongside (or instead of) their existing ‘Do not Flush’ labelling.

Notes to Editors

EU Single-Use Plastic labelling and legislation details: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32020R2151&from=EN#d1e36-65-1

*EU threshold is 20 items vs. 204 items per 100m in 2020. Note this calculation is a subsection of the Marine Conservation Society dataset and is calculated using the EU methodology.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2076 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 26th May 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).