In 2020’s Make Your Mark ballot young people voted both plastic pollution and climate change in their top 5 priority issues. UK Youth Parliament will be campaigning to address climate change at the UK level with a particular focus on making sure that we stop non-essential single use plastics by 2025.
Plastic pollution and climate change more broadly are issues with global impact. We are proud that UK Youth Parliament has a nationwide network of young people working for change. That’s why we have partnered with Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to make sure that you can take part in meaningful action to address this issue locally, nationally and globally.
This campaign will follow the Plastic Pollution Bill (this is a Presentation Bill – this means that we won’t be campaigning to have the whole thing made law, but will be working with politicians to try to have bits of it included in different laws. You can find out more about it here: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/plasticpollution.html) Although we have campaign actions planned out over the course of 2021/22 the nature of the Parliamentary calendar at the moment means we will occasionally have to respond quickly in advocating for change. In March/April we will kick off our campaign by forming a Campaign Steering Group who will mobilise young people in their areas and advise on when we should get involved/which particular aspects of the Bill we should advocate for.
Plastic pollution facts and statistics.
Stopping plastic pollution won’t be possible without also reducing plastic production. Sadly, end of life solutions like litter picks and recycling are not enough: government must reduce the amount of plastics produced in the first place and make reuse the easiest option for everyone.
The good news is that new laws are being written in the Environment Bill right now: Friends of the Earth are calling on government to seize this historic opportunity and turn the tide on the plastics crisis by setting laws that turn off the tap of plastic pollution. A first step towards achieving this is to end the use of non-essential single use plastics by 2025. Here are some statistics that help us think about the current picture when it comes to plastic pollution and some of the ways this might be linked to the climate crisis. You can use these facts when you’re speaking with your peers or decision makers about the campaign.
- By 2050 plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish, weighing at least 937 million tons of plastic to 895 million tons of fish, if plastic pollution continues at current rates (https://www.businessinsider.com/plastic-in-ocean-outweighs-fish-evidence-report-2017-1)
- The average Briton’s annual plastic waste includes 242 plastic bottles, 109 single-use coffee cups and 209 crisp packets (https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/poll-reveals-typical-brits-annual-waste/)
- Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. (OSPAR, 2009)
- 12 million tonnes of plastic are poured into the ocean every year. (Eunomia, 2016)
- Plastics consistently make up 80% of all marine debris studied. (IUCN, 2020)
- There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. (Eriksen, 2014)
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. (UK Government, 2018)
- Approx 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK. (Marine Conservation Society, 2016)
- Producing one tonne of plastic generates up to 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. (Material Economics, 2018)
- Plastic production has been forecast to grow by 60% by 2030 and to treble by 2050. (Center for International Environmental Law, 2019)
- Less than a third of all plastic in the UK is recycled. (PlasticsEurope, 2020)
- 63% of people want to reduce their consumption of plastic and 77% want the government to take more action to protect the ocean (Surfers against Sewage, May 2020).
UK Youth Parliament launched their national campaigns calling on the government to address the climate emergency, mental health concerns and access to higher education. The year-long campaigns are set to challenge decision makers to do more to ensure young people’s mental health is prioritised in the coming year, to create free, lifelong and inclusive higher education and lastly to stop non-essential single-use plastics by 2025.
A Spokesperson for the UK Youth Parliament said: “Young people have a clear ambitious vision for our future, and it’s important decision makers take action to address our concerns as we commence our recovering from this global pandemic.
“In our vision for a better society young people have been clear they want action on the climate emergency, they wish to see young people’s mental health given the attention it deserves and a government that invests in the young people of today by providing free university education.”
Members of Youth Parliament believe the climate emergency remains one of the biggest threats to our planet. Amongst many other issues, members across the country have agreed plastic pollution will have a serious impact on our current and future generations. The group of outspoken young people have stated national and local leaders in government must act to halt the impact of climate change with young people’s voices at the centre of decision making.
Mental health has remained a priority repeatedly for young people across all nations with the issue reoccurring as a top priority on six occasions within UK Youth Parliament’s annual ballot since 2011. Research from the British Medical Journal revealed deterioration in mental health is clearest among families already struggling, reinforcing concerns from young leaders that mental health must be kept at the heart of the government’s approach to pandemic recovery.
UK Youth Parliament have also joined forced with other campaigners to reiterate the importance of providing free higher education in England. The youth-led pressure group, believe that university is a gateway to success in life and should be freely available to all. The campaign intends to call for reforms to access to universities to prevent young people suffering financial hardship and not reaching their full potential.
Each of the campaigns have come about following UK Youth Parliament’s annual ballot of young people across the UK. The ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, which was coordinated by the British Youth Council and supported by UK Parliament, concluded young people felt access to higher education should remain free as a priority.