Heavy use of make-up has made Britain among the worst plastic polluters in Europe, a new study suggests.
A major report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) showed the UK uses more plastic cotton buds – 13.2 billion items a year – than any other European nation and was the second biggest user of crisp packets, getting through 8.3 billion in 2018.
Altogether, Britain uses the fifth highest number of single-use plastic items person, with relative prosperity and consequent use of make-up believed to be behind the high use of cotton buds, which are used to remove it.
The report also found that UK consumers could be throwing away a third more disposable drinks cups by 2030 without action to curb plastic waste.
Overall the amount of plastic waste the country produces is set to rise by a fifth by the end of the next decade – with a 34 per cent rise in crisp packets, 41 per cent more plastic straws and 9 per cent more drinks bottles.
The report was released the day buildings across the UK, including Buckingham Palace, switch off their lights for an hour to mark Earth Hour, a worldwide event to highlight the risks of pollution.
This year alone, the UK will use 10.8 billion wet wipes, 16.5 billion pieces of plastic cutlery, 42 billion straws and 4.1 billion single-use drinks cups and lids, the report said.