Almost eight-in-ten Britons surveyed said plastic sample sachets should be banned in the UK, and more than four-in-five said the government should not ignore their impact on plastic pollution.
The poll was commissioned by international campaign group A Plastic Planet as part of its Sack the Sachet campaign. OnePoll polled 2,000 members of the UK public aged 18 and over between 17 – 22 March this year.
Plastic sample sachets are used to package single doses of products including perfume, shampoo, shower gel, and detergent, often to encourage sales of full-size products.
The personal care industry alone is said to produce 122 billion plastic sachets each year, and is expected to be the most lucrative end-use market for sachet packaging.
Often made from a laminated film comprised of plastic and aluminium, A Plastic Planet said they are almost impossible to recycle with little value and their small size means they are one of the most prevalent polluting plastics in the environment.
The most recent global audit of branded plastic waste revealed sachets were the most commonly found item, ahead of cigarette butts and plastic bottles.
There’s currently no legislation in place in the UK or EU to tackle the environmental impact of plastic sachets, with the single-use plastics ban currently only covering plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.
The poll follows growing political support for a ban, with 26 cross-party politicians urging the Government to ban non-food sachets in an Early Day Motion tabled in September last year.
In November 2020, some 40 politicians, business leaders, and campaigners, signed an open letter urging the UK and EU to include sample sachets in their single-use plastic bans.
Campaigners and politicians welcomed the results, urging the Government to listen and take action.
Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet co-founder, said: “Single-dose sachets embody our hyper-consumptive, throwaway culture that is enabled by this miracle but misused and indestructible material, plastic. There is clear public consensus that pumping out billions of single-use sachets, useful for moments, polluting for centuries is now unacceptable. Somehow this pernicious use of plastic, the sachet, has slipped under all radars and it has to be stopped.
“They’re not going to be recycled, they’re entirely valueless and they’re contaminating our environment from the depths of the ocean to the soil we grow our food in. With growing cross-party political and public support, campaigners have been calling for action for years. What more does the Government need to show it must act now and sack the sachet for good?”
Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central and former Secretary of State for the Environment, said: “We have bans in place curbing the use of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers, but this barely scratches the surface of the plastics crisis. It’s really important that the Government’s action doesn’t end here, and I hope that plastic sample sachets will be included in the ban.”
Chris Loder, Conservative MP for West Dorset said: “If we are to truly tackle plastic pollution, pernicious single-use items like sachets must be covered by ambitious legislation that curbs their use. We have bans in place for a choice few single-use items, and it’s right to question why sample sachets, as well as other items are not included here. Sachets are among the most commonly found plastic items littering the environment, and neither we nor the Government can continue to overlook them.”
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish and former Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “With COP26 around the corner, the spotlight is on the UK to show global leadership on every aspect of the environmental crisis, including plastic pollution. To do this we cannot let sample sachets go under the radar. They’re the very definition of single-use, are often unasked for by consumers and are used by businesses simply to market their products. Knowing the devastating impacts of plastic on the environment, the use of sample sachets is unjustifiable.”