Study shows UK public unaware of contribution to marine litter

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Nearly half respondents believe US, Europe biggest contributor to marine litter

A new research highlights that most adults in Britain misunderstand and overestimate the extent to which the UK contributes to marine litter.

A recent research by YouGov saw 49% of respondents believing that the US and Europe contributed to more than half of marine litter globally.

In fact, the USA and Europe combined contribute just 2% — and only 1% of respondents got the answer correct, said a statement by the British Plastics Federation (BPF).

The recent YouGov survey also highlighted that most people believe that the US is the worst offender in terms of plastic pollution, with the UK coming fourth, when in fact the USA ranks 20th and European coastal countries combined rank 18th.

The BPF, which funded the research as part of its efforts to establish a factual approach to plastics in the marine environment, said it was “surprised by the degree to which people were over-estimating the contribution of the UK and the USA to this global issue.”

“We are working closely with our members to further increase recycling rates and encouraging best-practice in manufacturing facilities to minimise the UK’s marine litter footprint. We are also supporting various projects to educate consumers about the environmental impact of littering,” said BPF head of public and industrial affairs Francisco Morcillo.

This research, noted Morcillo, “highlights the need to continue to educate people about this issue so that collectively we can develop and support the most appropriate and effective solutions, remembering that some countries still do not have the waste and recycling infrastructures we take for granted in the West.”

The survey also asked respondents what they thought would encourage them to recycle more when outside of their homes. 58% favoured more recycling bins in public places, followed by 16% who favoured a deposit return scheme.


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