Image of single use plastics

Plastics are often used to create single-use products and this can have a devastating impact on our environment. 320 million tonnes of plastics are produced globally every year, the same weight as every human on Earth! Around 50% of this is intended for single-use purposes, designed to be used just once and then thrown away.


  • The production of plastics contributes to climate change. Drilling for oil and processing it into plastic releases harmful gas emissions into the environment
  • Around 50% of plastics are only used once, then thrown away. Only about 9% of the plastic that has been produced since its invention has been recycled
  • Plastic in the environment will never degrade in a natural way. Once thrown away, plastics break down into tiny fragments called micro-plastics – these can never be cleaned up properly
  • Micro-plastics can be found on most of the world’s beaches, in oceans, soil and even in the air we breathe. These micro-plastics could end up in our food chain and, although we don’t yet know the full impact, there is potential that this could cause harm to human health
  • Around 8 million tonnes of plastic flows into the sea every year – the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of plastic each minute. This is harming marine wildlife (through injury and accidental ingestion) and destroying habitats
  • Plastic bottles are the third worst plastic polluter of the ocean and more than 7.7 billion single-use plastic bottles are sold in Britain each year
  • Because of ocean currents, plastics and other rubbish can gather together in areas called gyres. The North Pacific Gyre is twice the size of France!
  • Scientists predict that, if nothing changes in our plastic consumption habits, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight)


Logo to show the swap 2 save logo

Visit our swap2save pages for 12 great ways that you can swap single-use products for reusable alternatives, saving you money and the planet at the same time.

Join the swap2save campaign, tell us how many single-use swaps you can make and get regular updates and ideas.

Schools , businesses and community groups can reduce single-use products too. Find free educational resources and case studies to help you to reduce single-use in your school, workplace or community.



image of the Balloon and Lantern poster included council and norfolk recycles logosBalloons and sky lanterns are examples of single use products. They are often released as a way of commemorating the passing of a loved one, or for a fundraising event. Sadly, unexpired sky lanterns pose a significant fire hazard. Livestock and wildlife on both the land and sea can be lost as a result of ingestion of parts from sky lanterns and balloon debris.

Click here to find exciting alternatives ideas, and join hundreds of people and organisations in Norfolk pledging to no longer release sky lanterns and balloons.