Smaller firms taking little action on single-use plastics – survey

Just half of Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses say they are doing all they can to cut single-use plastic waste, a survey suggests.

Less than a third of smaller firms (30%) say they have encouraged staff to use reusable alternatives and just 20% have replaced some or all of their single-use plastic, the YouGov poll for Keep Britain Tidy and Brita indicates.

Only 6% have carried out an audit of the single-use plastics in their business and just 15% of senior decision makers say they have taken steps to replace them in their supply chain in the last year.

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The survey suggests only 23% of smaller firms believe they are responsible for encouraging customers to cut consumption of single-use plastics, while just over half (52%) say they have done all they can to reduce their use despite 70% of senior staff reporting that their staff want them to reduce their footprint.

However, the poll suggests that the firms fear reducing single-use plastics could make them uncompetitive, while 47% say they are not motivated to be a leader in single-use plastic waste prevention in their sector.

Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “This research makes for shocking reading but it is not simply about knocking businesses for inaction – it is about understanding the barriers they face and looking to work with them to offer the expertise, support and guidance that will help them transform for good.

“The public are willing to get out there and do something to clean up the plastic that they see around them – more than half a million volunteers gave their time during the Great British Spring Clean to do just that – and businesses must support the public by playing their part.

“There are some 5.7 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, accounting for 99% of all businesses – so we need them to take action alongside the household names.”

YouGov surveyed 1,006 senior decision-makers in small and medium-sized firms from June 3-11.