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Today’s talking point


GREENPEACE are inviting us to put pressure on the Government to fix what it perceives to be the UK’s plastic waste crisis. 

They say we must:

1. Stop dumping our plastic waste on other countries;
2. Cut the UK’s single-use plastic by 50 per cent by 2025;
3. Roll out a bottle return scheme to stop billions of bottles from being dumped. 

But don’t Greenpeace need to dig a bit deeper into the plastic problem, which is less the amount that is inevitably dumped than the amount of unnecessary plastic produced in the first place? Greenpeace like to tell us we are the second biggest per person producer of plastic waste in the world but the trouble is – despite that iniquity – we are far from being the biggest country producer of either plastic or plastic waste. That honour goes to China, way ahead as the world’s plastic production leader and once again the real villain of the piece. See the graph here:

China also leads all other countries in the items of plastic it exports, $19.5billion dollars worth as of 2020. The UK comes 14th in this list of exporters at $1.6billion. 

And it’s unarguably the case that by country, China, along with the US, is responsible for exponentially more plastic waste generation than the little old UK. An interesting chart here shows the cumulative displaced plastic waste in the world as a result of a Chinese import ban some years ago. What it puts out by way of pollution it seems it has little intention of dealing with.

Of course we should all limit unnecessary use of plastic – its use and disposal is a moral, social and economic problem. But whatever we do here is not going to make very much difference to the global problem. Which raises the question of whether Greenpeace have really got a handle on it.

However if they are set on focusing on the UK, how about they start with the not-so-fantastic NHS which, amongst it not so worthy features, happens to be the largest single-user of plastics in Europe. In fact it suffers from a veritable plastic addiction (much imported from, where else, but China) and is in urgent need of treatment. 

According to this article, the percentage of NHS plastic waste is significantly higher than that of other industries, and makes up 22.7 per cent of all NHS waste. In fact the service disposes of a cool 133,000 tons of plastic each year with only about 5 per cent of this waste currently recovered.

What with exponential new mountains of redundant PPE and face masks, this can only have got worse this last year. So if Greenpeace are determined go for the soft target UK, how about they start with the hardest nut in it, the NHS? And start by telling it to stop its mass purchase of polluting masks and other questionable PPE from China.

Feel free to discuss this or anything else on your mind.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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