Revealed: 'Jaw-dropping' amount of plastic that's thrown away by British households every year

Households across the UK throw away almost 100 billion pieces of plastic every year, a recent survey has found.

The Big Plastic Count saw nearly 100,000 homes keep track of every piece of disposable packaging in the space of a week.

Conducted back in May, the project represented a quarter of a million people, who each threw an average of 66 pieces every week.

If scaled up across every home in the country, it suggests Britons are chucking out 96.6 billion bits of disposable plastic a year.

Launched by the environmental charities Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic, the survey also discovered that the most common item to be binned was fruit and vegetable packaging, followed by snack bags, packets and wrappers.

Out of the discarded plastic, the scheme found that 46% is incinerated and 25% is dumped in landfill.

Just 12% will be recycled in UK facilities, with a further 17% shipped abroad for processing, it added.

The two charities claim this is the first time plastic waste has been measured in individual pieces, as the government records the amount by weight.

'Turn off the plastic tap'

As a result of the findings, they are now calling for the government to set legally binding targets to cut single-use plastics by at least 50% by 2025.

"These new figures lay bare the responsibility of the government, big brands and supermarkets to tackle this crisis, and they must rise to the challenge right now - there is no time to waste," said Daniel Webb, founder of Everyday Plastic.

Greenpeace UK plastics campaigner Chris Thorne added that the government needs to "turn off the plastic tap".

"This is a jaw-dropping amount of plastic waste and should give ministers pause for thought," he said.

"Pretending we can sort this with recycling is just industry greenwash."

As well as steep cuts in single-use plastic, the organisations want to see a ban on plastic waste exports, a deposit return scheme on drinks containers, and a moratorium on new incineration capacity.

What is the government doing?

According to trade association Plastics Europe, the world economy produces more than 350 million tonnes of plastic each year - more than the total mass of all mammals on Earth.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the government is "going further" to tackle single-use plastics by introducing its Environment Act.

"We have restricted the supply of plastic straws and cotton buds, banned the supply of plastic drinks stirrers and are finalising proposals to introduce a deposit return scheme, which would capture plastic bottles.

"Packaging producers will be expected to cover the cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging through the introduction of extended producer responsibility, and this year we introduced a world-leading plastic tax to help tackle plastic waste."

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

All on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.