Single-use is the Word of the Year

With all the buzz surrounding single-use plastics, perhaps it’s no surprise that ‘single-use’ has just been selected as the Collins Word of the Year 2018.

A Harper Collins Image - Single-Use Word of The Year 2018

‘The plastic bag tax, a crackdown on disposable items such as cotton buds and coffee cups, and popular global beverage chains declaring their commitment to reducing waste by offering discounts to those who bring their own cup, 2018 was a watershed moment for individuals and corporate bodies alike that will hopefully lead to a brighter, more sustainable future’, writes Rachel Quin on the Collins Word Lover’s blog.

Let’s hope she’s right!

It’s been an interesting few days in the world of single-use plastics…

On 24 October the EU approved a proposal to ban a range the plastic items that most often end up in our seas by 2021.

On 28 October The Ellen McArthur Foundation launched its New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. This will see companies reporting on their efforts to minimise plastic packaging and make what remains more sustainable – either reusable, recyclable or compostable – by 2025. More than 290 organisations, including PepsiCo, Coco-Cola and Unilever, have already pledged to take part.

The following day, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, finally dashed hopes of an immediate ‘latte levy’ in his Budget speech. He said that the Government would monitor the situation and may return to the idea in the future “if sufficient progress is not made”. For now though, the onus is still on organisations and individuals to fight against the temptation of buying coffee in single-use cups.

Ironically, the same day, shocking new figures emerged about the UK’s use of disposable cups. According to Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG), a million more cups are being used and discarded each day than in 2016. That takes us from 2.5 billion to 2.88 billion per year, in this country alone. The report revealed good news that the recycling rate has increased from less than 1% to 4%, however this improvement is dwarfed by the increased number of cups used.

‘Single-use’ is without doubt a deserving Word of the Year. Hopefully this new status will help to highlight the seriousness of the issue and encourage people to think more about ways to cut back on single-use plastics.

You can follow the ‘single-use’ discussion on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #CollinsWOTY.

You might also like to contribute to a UK Government consultation on banning some single-use plastics. You can take part here until 3 December.