Look what you could save if you buy less single-use plastic

People in Bude are pretty savvy when it comes to single-use plastics, but the same cannot necessarily be said for the rest of the country.

• The UK population spends a staggering £65 billion per year on takeaway convenience purchases in single-use plastic packaging
• One in 10 admit they are not bothered about the environmental damage of single-use plastic products
• Instead of saving the environment, 87% said saving money would, in fact, be a key factor in reducing their single-use plastic purchases
• Habitual users (like those who have a daily takeaway coffee) spend £5080.20 on single-use plastic on-the-go products a year, and if they were to switch to reusable products such as a refillable water bottle or coffee cup, they could make a massive saving of £2397.80

New research from BRITA UK, which has looked at the monetary spending on single-use plastic products, has found that British takeaway habits cost the UK population £65 billion a year. Habitual users spend £5080.20 on single-use plastic on-the-go food and drink products every year – if they switched to reusable alternatives, they could save up to £2397.80 a year.

The survey of 2,000 adults found 87% of respondents would consider swapping their single-use products for reusable alternatives if it would save them money, as a staggering 53% admit they are not actually likely to change their single-use plastic habits due to environmental factors. Saving money is clearly a key motivator for the public to switch to more environmentally conscious behaviour.

When the £65 billion figure is broken down, the UK population spends per year:

• £25 billion on at-home takeaways
• £17 billion on takeaway lunches
• £13 billion on takeaway breakfasts
• £10.5 billion on single-use plastic bottled water
• £240 million on takeaway drinks

Habitual single-use plastic users on average buy:
• 12.2 single-use plastic bottles a week, spending £8.70 a week and £452 a year
o If they switched to drinking and carrying filtered water in a reusable bottled they would save £355.96 – equivalent to a year’s gym membership
• 7.6 takeaway hot drinks (in cups containing single-use plastic) a week, spending £21.10 a week and £1097.20 a year
o If they switched to a reusable coffee cup they would save £185.64 – equivalent to 4 months electricity bills
• 3.9 on-the-go breakfasts (in single-use plastic packaging) a week, spending £22.25 a week and £1,157 a year
o If they were to switch to making breakfast at home or in the office, they would save £717.60, the price of a 24-month phone contract
• 5.8 on-the-go lunches (in single-use plastic packaging) a week, spending £22.60 a week and £1,175 a year
o If they were to bring their lunch with them they would save £647.20 a year, which would feed a family of four for 3 months
• 4.7 takeaway dinners (in single-use plastic packaging) a week, spending £23.05 a week and £1,198.60 a year
o If they were to completely ditch the takeaways and instead cook meals from scratch they would save £491.40 per year, equivalent to over 3 months commuter travel in the UK

Not every person (obviously) is regularly buying single-use food and drink on-the-go, it is actually a few repeat buyers who are causing the most damage. Over half (51%) of Brits never buy takeaway drinks in a disposable cup, 42% never buy single-use plastic bottled water and 43% don’t eat takeaway food. It is the habitual users who regularly purchase convenience single-use plastic items who are in fact, seeing the biggest impact on their wallets.

A simple switch to reusable products, such as reusable water bottles, jugs at home, coffee cups and food containers would help make significant financial savings.

Sarah Taylor, Managing Director of BRITA UK, said: “Despite the increased media attention and pressure, people are still using far too many single-use plastic products. If the environment is not a motivator, maybe the potential savings will prompt Brits to change their habits.

“Interestingly, the research shows that 61% of bottled water is bought to drink at home, which could be because it simply tastes better. A simple switch, in this case, would be to buy a water filter jug, which would give them access to great tasting water at all times, as well as helping them save money and the environment.

“With our research, we wanted to shine a light on the harmful effect of takeaway purchases on the environment, and showcase the financial benefits of small, more sustainable swaps. We want to encourage the nation to #SwapForGood and choose reusable alternatives and products that last, saving the environment and pockets at the same time.”

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