Plastic pollution has been making headlines for some months now, as programmes like the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 and new research draws attention to the horrifying extent of the problem.

The sheer volume of plastic pollution is highlighted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s finding that there will be more plastics than fish in the sea by 2050 if we carry on as we are. Meanwhile, the impacts of plastic pollution range from the immediate, like rubbish on our beaches and direct harm to birds and other wildlife, to the far reaching and lesser understood long-term impacts on habitats, food-chains and human health.

Making progress

The good news is that in response to these major alarm bells we are seeing a growing public backlash against the wasteful use of plastics, with inspiring community initiatives like Ullapool banning plastics straws and Councils and businesses across the country making similar pledges. The Scottish Government is to be congratulated for its recent commitments including the introduction of a deposit and return scheme for bottles and cans, a ban on plastic cotton buds, and the phase out of non-recyclable plastics by 2030 in line with the EU.

Plenty of work still to do

But there’s a huge amount to be done to get the shift away from single-use plastics to a truly circular economy happening fast enough and done right. We are also working to draw attention to the cause of the problem, as plastics pollution is all too often simply one end of a long, environmentally damaging journey from resource extraction to litter. The vast majority of plastics are derived from fossil fuels – with Grangemouth operators Ineos importing large volumes of fracked US gas to produce plastics. Tackling the tide of plastic must be part of an overall shift to a Circular Economy, informed by planetary limits, the waste hierarchy, ethical sourcing and resource efficiency.

Take the PlasticFreeFriday Pledge

Credit: Chris Jordan

Make the change

Sign the PlasticFreeFriday Pledge to join thousands of others going plastic free on Fridays.

Together we will send a message to shops, manufacturers and government that you want action to reduce plastic waste.

Sign the pledge

10 tips for a plastic free life

Want to cut down on plastics but don’t know where to start?

Here’s a few quick tips that will help you on your way!  

Other plastic campaigns


This campaign is using public pressure to get supermarkets to ditch plastic.

more on this
Deposit Scheme

Have You Got the Bottle? are backing a Scottish Deposit Return Scheme for bottles and cans.

more on this
Beach Clean

Get your hands dirty, find your local beach clean through the Marine Conservation Society

more on this
Food Waste

Love Food Hate Waste will help you cut down on food waste

more on this
Cotton Buds

When buying buds, make sure you choose ones without plastic stems. Details on where to get them and why

more on this

Sunnyside Ocean Defenders are P7 pupils and conservation campaigners from Glasgow

more on this