During these times of unpredictability and concern, as a consumer, it can seem confusing as to which products we endorse. Greenwashing is rife and to make informed decisions requires time and research. When it comes to plastics, there hasn’t been much information out there, until now. Unfortunately, this fantastic product, which since the 1950s revolutionised our lives, has been widely demonised in the press.

The British Plastics Federation is calling for a better understanding of packaging materials to ensure people make environmentally conscious choices. They worry that – due to misinformation, or a lack of information regarding plastics – people are unable to make informed decisions. Studies have shown that plastic, during production, actually produces less CO2 emissions than many other packaging materials – making it in some ways, a far greener choice.

The British Plastics Federations Director-General, Philip Law, urges the government, retailers and brands to assist in finding ways to demonstrate why ditching plastic is perhaps not the most beneficial move for our environment. He worries that shifting to alternative materials may increase global greenhouse gas emissions, therefore unwittingly exacerbating an already critical situation.

A YouGov poll determined that only 2% of the general public understand that plastic packaging materials, during manufacture, contribute less greenhouse gas emissions than many other alternatives. The industry maintains that with intelligent management plastics are a better choice and the lesser of a few evils.

The organisation maintains it is “vital” that the public does not think ‘plastic-free’ implies ‘better for the environment’. The BPF has also rightly highlighted that plastic packaging plays an essential role in protecting products and reducing food waste.

Phillip Law explains:

“The fact that nearly three-quarters of the British public, unfortunately, assume that buying something that is plastic-free is better for the environment highlights how unbalanced the debate about plastic has become. People should have a choice. But people need accurate information to make an informed decision – and that is what is lacking.”


These findings come according to a report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warning that shifting to alternatives risks escalating carbon pollution.

  • The BPF recently released a document called Understanding the Debate About Plastic, in the hope of providing an accessible way of educating people.
  • The survey was directed online on September 2019. Over two thousand respondents took part from across the UK (aged 18+). Figures were weighted.