Despite the plastic-waste emergency, the world produces 381 million tonnes in plastic waste yearly – a figure set to double by 2034. Even if Brits are vigilant at rinsing and recycling their plastic waste, less than 10% of UK single-use plastic that makes it to the recycling bin is genuinely recycled.
Bower Collective, an award-winning sustainable online subscription platform, have released a comprehensive breakdown of single-use plastic hotspots in the UK home, room by room, shelf by shelf, to help the UK consumer take manageable steps to reduce their impact one product at a time.
The top offenders in the home
Just 10 products in the home account for half of the home’s single-use plastic waste, and all of these items can be found in the bathroom.
|Rank||Product||Annual avg. waste (kg)|
based on 2 person household
|% out of the whole house|
|1.||Toilet Cleaner||5.1 kg.||10.5|
|2.||Hand wash||3.2 kg.||6.8|
|3.||Sanitary Pads||2.7 kg.||5.5|
|4.||Hair Mask||2.4 kg.||5|
|5.||Hair Gel/Wax||2.4 kg.||5|
|8.||Body Wash/Shower Gel||1.8 kg.||3.8|
Most frequently bought products in a 2 person household
Some single-use products are bought, and thrown out, weekly. Parents will not be surprised that the most frequently purchased single-use product is baby & wet wipes. On average, this item is bought 52 times per year, on par with hand cream — a modern necessity now we are sanitising and washing our hands more regularly.
The bathroom is responsible for 2/3rd of the households single-use plastic waste, more than any other room. In one year, this amounts to around 1 million kg of bathroom waste across all UK households.
Personal and feminine hygiene is the most polluting shelf in the bathroom, accounting for 31% of all bathroom waste. The other hotspots are hair care and grooming (which is responsible for 20%), the bath and shower tray (19%) and toilet maintenance (which for just the bathroom toilet alone is 13%).
The worst product in this room is toilet cleaner, which is responsible for 11% of one bathroom’s single-use plastic waste contribution. Sanitary pads amount to 9% of the bathroom’s contribution (or 2.7kg per household per year), and hair gel and hair wax are the next biggest offenders, with each one accounting for 8% of the bathroom’s contribution.
The utility room beats the kitchen to the title of second most polluting area. Overall, cleaning and laundry products found here contribute to 8.1% of the entire household’s contribution.
The laundry shelf contributed to 33% of the room’s plastic-waste, leaving cleaning products responsible for 67% of the room’s waste.
The worst product in this room is fabric conditioner, which is responsible for 20% of the room’s single-use plastic waste contribution. Glass and mirror cleaner and surface sanitiser are the next biggest offenders, with each one accounting for 14% each.
Without taking food-packaging into account, the kitchen accounts for 7.7% of a home’s single-use plastic waste, or 124,141 kg. Of annual waste across all UK households.
Kitchen cleaning spray alone accounts for 22.5% of the kitchen’s output. More thorough hand washing also means more plastic waste, as 20% of all kitchen waste is from hand wash bottles, which equates annually to 25,524kg of UK wide waste. The third most polluting bottle was hand lotion, which accounted for 16% of the room’s plastic output.
The bedroom only accounts for a modest 5% of the home’s plastic waste contribution. Make-up independently accounts for 79% of the bedroom’s contribution, leaving ‘handbag items’ (hand gel and travel sized hand cream, to make up the rest).
In a two-person household, you can expect to rack up around 1.9 kg. of makeup waste per year. The cosmetic having the most ugly impact is lipstick: which accounts for 23% of bedroom single-use plastic waste, and 29% of the makeup-bags. The next biggest offender is Make-up setting spray, which when used regularly, accounts for just shy of 12% of the Bedroom’s plastic waste contribution.
We know that the impact of single-use plastics is devastating: from the effect of plastic on marine life, to toxic landfill, carbon-polluting incineration and fatbergs. Sometimes these issues can seem so overwhelming, that it’s hard to know where to start. By taking one big part of our everyday lives (our home) and tackling the issue room by room, shelf by shelf, we hope the ‘Sustainable House Tour’ empowers you to see how you can make a difference – on a more tangible scale.
Most to least wasteful rooms
1. Bathroom: 63.7% of the home’s annual plastic waste
The bathroom produces 30.9kg of plastic waste per household per year, and 1,030,037kg collectively across UK households.
2. Utility Room: 8.1% of the home’s annual plastic waste
Doing the laundry produces 3.93kg of the home’s plastic waste per household per year, and 130,870kg collectively across UK households.
3. Kitchen: 7.7% of the home’s annual plastic waste
Even without the whopping contribution of plastic waste from food packaging, the kitchen produces 3.73kg of plastic waste per household per year (excl. plastic from food waste). This is 126,076kg of plastic waste per year across UK households.
4. Living Room: 6% of the home’s annual plastic waste
The living room produces 2.9kg of plastic waste per household per year, and 97,309kg per year across UK households.
5. Bedroom: 4.9% of the home’s annual plastic waste
The bedroom produces 2.4kg of plastic waste per household per year, and 79,960kg per year across UK households.
If you’d like more details, and to go on the Sustainable House Tour, just go here – Bower Collective.