Wise Up To Waste

Give plastic bags a break

Plastic is headline news. The start of 2018 has seen reports of China restricting the import of certain materials for recycling.  There has been increased interest in plastics, which are frequently collected in local authority recycling schemes, as a result of this.

But plastic recycling is fantastic, as it turns waste into something useful.  However, preventing or avoiding waste is even better – for the environment and for consumers, in that it doesn’t need complicated treatment or transporting which it does when recycled.

One simple change that everyone can make in preventing plastic waste is using reusable carrier bags instead of getting plastic ones for 5p at the checkout.

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is launching a new campaign to encourage residents to reduce the use of plastic bags by speaking out about their bag habits.  In doing so, residents will be in with a chance to win tickets to the Sea Life Centre, London.

Officers from NLWA will be available at a number of venues to talk to north Londoners about how to reduce plastic bag waste – why it helps the environment and what simple practices can make sure they are always properly equipped for shopping trips.  Residents who come up and speak to the officers will be in with a chance to win tickets to the Sea Life Centre.  In addition, free reusable bags will be available to pick up from NLWA officers too, to make it easy to take action.

For a full list of venues, dates and times visit  

It is estimated that nearly 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year[1], and plastic bag waste is a contributor of this. Plastic can take as long as 450 years to degrade which results in so much plastic being present in our oceans and washed up on our beaches. The United Nations Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic2. A thinner plastic, like a discarded plastic bag, can break down in water and release toxic chemicals. This not only harms the creatures that live in the ocean, but can also result in toxins entering the human food chain.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of NLWA, comments, ‘When reusable carrier bags are so readily available and so much sturdier, it is important that people use them instead of flimsy plastic bags which now have to be purchased and have a very short life.   Plastic bags have a huge environmental impact and we should all be trying to reduce their usage.  We should all be focusing on preventing carrier bag waste, in fact any plastic waste, in the first instance.  If we can prevent the waste that is definitely the best option.’

For further information, about plastic bags and this NLWA project visit


[1]  The New Plastics Economy, Ellen Macarthur Foundation, January 2016. (Accessed 29/01/2018)

2 Unesco