In this final episode, Anita looks at single-use toys whilst Hugh reveals the plastics industry's plans to dramatically increase plastic production.
In the final episode of the series, Anita Rani investigates the tsunami of single-use plastic that parents pick up in the form of give-away toys. It turns out that McDonald's are the largest toy distributor in the world, handing out over 1.4 billion plastic toys per year worldwide. They claim on their website that they are recyclable, but a visit to Simon Ellin, the CEO of the Recycling Association, makes it very clear that while that may be true in theory, in reality it’s not that simple.
On our street, the residents attempt to go plastic free during the toughest time of year, Christmas. Christmas generates a mind-blowing 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging. Is it possible to avoid the plastic wrapping, decorations and cheap plastic presents without turning into a Scrooge?
Meanwhile, Hugh is in Scotland. He’s learnt that at the same time as the public are trying to reduce the amount of plastics in their lives, the plastics industry has big plans to increase plastic production by 50% before 2040. To find out more, he visits the INEOS factory in Grangemouth, owned by the richest man in Britain, where they produce a staggering 60-70 billion tiny plastic pellets every day.
Anita meets two young campaigners who are trying to do something about it. Ella, aged 9, and Caitlin, aged 7, have started a petition telling McDonald's to stop giving out plastic toys with their Happy Meals. So far they‘ve gathered over 166,000 signatures. But when they try to deliver it to someone in the sustainability department at McDonald’s HQ in London, Anita and the girls don’t get the welcome they expect.
After four months, the experiment to find out how much one street could reduce its reliance on single-use plastics is over – and the results are staggering. Despite the overall success, there’s no doubt the residents believe that supermarkets could do much more to help.
In Hugh’s experience, nothing makes supermarkets more anxious than the prospect of losing loyal customers. They only ever change when customers ask them to, and they are always asking for our feedback. So what would happen, Hugh wonders, if every one of us joined forces, and together fed back our unwanted plastic to the supermarkets?
You are at the last episode