By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent
More than eight out of 10 people say they find it hard to avoid plastic packaging during their regular supermarket shop, a poll has found.
And almost three-quarters (72%) think supermarkets are not doing enough about packaging to tackle the problem of plastic pollution, the survey by Populus for Greenpeace showed.
The issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has soared up the agenda following the BBC’s Blue Planet II and campaigns by many organisations, with two-thirds of people (67%) more concerned than a year ago, the poll found.
The vast majority are now worried about plastic pollution in the oceans, where it can harm wildlife and get into the food chain.
Some 86% support supermarkets moving towards more refillable and reusable packaging instead of single-use plastics and more than nine out of 10 (91%) think they should be working towards reducing their overall packaging.
But less than a third (31%) think their regular supermarket has taken steps to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they sell, while more than half (55%) say they would choose a shop that does not over-package goods.
Elena Polisano, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said the polling was “stark”.
“When it comes to plastic pollution, Brits are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.
“People all across the UK are on the same page: ocean plastic pollution needs tackling and it is urgent that supermarkets take meaningful action to reduce their plastic footprint now.”
The poll for Greenpeace comes on World Environment Day, the theme of which this year is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
The United Nations warns that 360 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year, and levels are set to almost double to 619 million tonnes by 2030, with cigarette butts, drinks bottles and caps and food wrappers the most common single-use plastics.
Up to five trillion plastic bags are used each year, and 13 million tonnes of plastic leaks into the oceans annually.
Plastic litters beaches, blocks drains and harms wildlife, with an estimated 100,000 marine animals killed each year, as well as turning up in food and is found in 90% of bottled water.
But a report from UN Environment on plastics finds “surging momentum” for action to curb plastic pollution, and sets out ways to tackle the problem – pointing out that government levies and bans have been the best way to limit overuse of disposable plastic products.
But there needs to be broader work with businesses to extend the responsibility of producers for their waste, and to create incentives for a more sustainable approach to plastic production and consumption.
UN Environment head Erik Solheim, said: “The assessment shows that action can be painless and profitable – with huge gains for people and the planet that help avert the costly downstream costs of pollution.
“Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it.”
Campaigners against plastic pollution are urging millions of people around the world to avoid plastic packaged food and drink products for 24 hours as part of a “world first” One Plastic Free Day on World Environment Day.
People are being urged to take a photo of the plastic-packaged products they are giving up for One Plastic Free Day and share it on social media, saying why they have been inspired to #PassOnPlastic.