Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is plastic a problem?
A: Every stage of the lifecycle of plastic has huge impacts for our environment. Find out more about the impact of plastic on our page Why Plastic Free?

Q: Why can’t we just recycle it?
A: Recycling helps, but it has big environmental costs of its own. We have put together plastic recycling myths and facts on our page on Recycling Facts

Q: Isn’t climate change a bigger issue than plastic pollution?
A: The plastics industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and its impact is growing ever larger – read more about the link between the two in this 2019 report from CIEL Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet

Q: How can I possibly make a difference?
A: As the American philosopher Howard Zinn said: “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world”.

Q: How can we get supermarkets and other big companies to reduce their plastic packaging?
A: How about joining one of the many plastic campaigns, such as those run by Greenpeace, Surfers Against Sewage and City to Sea? Look for relevant petitions online, and always give feedback to your local supermarket customer services if you think they are using unnecessary plastic. Your voice counts!

Q: Why should I get involved? Shouldn’t this be an issue for governments to resolve?
A: Governments are bringing in legislation – slowly – but the consumer still has a big part to play. If we refuse to buy products wrapped in plastic and make enough noise about it, businesses will change their practices as seen across all the big retailers over the past couple of years.

Q: I’d like to reduce my plastic footprint then. Where do I start?
A: Fantastic! Find out exactly how to take action in your home, workplace, school and community.

Q: Where can I shop unpackaged and plastic free?
A: See our resources page for a list of local shops and online maps of shops in the UK.

Q: Is it safe to buy unpackaged food during the Corona virus pandemic and is it safer to buy food covered in plastic?
A: Read this informative article by SAS marine conservation charity who are behind the UK plastic free community scheme.

Q: What is a Plastic Free Community?
A: A Plastic Free Community is one that has come together to combat unnecessary single use plastic, under a scheme run by marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage. There are more than 600 Plastic Free Communities across the UK. Plastic Free Community scheme

Q: How do I start a Plastic Free Community group?
A: See our community toolkit page on how to start your group.

Q: Is there an existing Plastic Free Community group in my area?
A: Check on the Surfers Against Sewage map for a community lead in your area or contact us to find out about other schemes.

Q: What do the recycling symbols on plastic items mean?
A: See this helpful recycling symbol poster from Stroud District Council.

Q: Can I put compostable plastic items in the council food container?
A: Recycling rules vary locally. In Stroud district, yes, but take care because non-compostable plastic will contaminate the waste stream.

Q: Can I line my council food bin with biodegradable or compostable bags?
A: Again, this will vary locally. In the Stroud district, the bags are stripped away from food waste and disposed of separately, so anything can be used. But it is a good way to reuse paper bags and compostable sleeves from magazines.

Q: Where can I recycle plastic not collected by the council?
A: Find out on our resources and recycling information pages.