Plastics and packaging

Find alternatives to single-use plastics

Using reusable alternatives to single-use plastics can reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce and save you money in the long run.

Here are six easy swaps you can do now

Be considerate when replacing one single-use material with another. For example, replacing a plastic straw with a paper one, only swaps one wasteful item for another. The real issue is that it only gets used once before being thrown away. How much better to use a reusable straw or have no straw at all if you don't really need it!

Reusable coffee cup 


Reduce unnecessary packaging

Reduce the amount of packaging in the home by choosing to buy in bulk and/or shop at locations that offer a refill service.

There are many products that are suitable for refill without compromising the quality and use of the product, for example, cleaning products, pasta, rice, dried fruit, baking ingredients and oils.

Dried fruits and seeds in bowls

The zero waste network is an online directory of shops offering products loose or in reusable packaging.

Making your own products, such as household cleaners, soap or make up is another way to reduce packaging. Often this can also save you money and is a good option if you are concerned about potentially harmful ingredients in certain products. Here are a few simple ideas from New Leaf Alresford to get you started.

Share your tried and tested methods with us on social media or email


Be cautious of 'biodegradable' or 'compostable' packaging

Packaging marked as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ usually needs specialist facilities to break down. Currently, they are not considered suitable for home composting and cannot be processed via kerbside recycling or Household Waste Recycling Centres in Hampshire. If they cannot be avoided, consider reusing them as much as you can before disposing of them in your general household waste.

Use packaging to reduce food waste

The three main purposes of packaging are:
• to protect and preserve products
• to facilitate handling and use of products
• to market, communicate and inform about products

Plastic isn’t perfect but has some advantages over other materials. It is lighter, making it cheaper and less fuel intensive to transport. It is versatile and lends itself to a wide range of uses. It can keep perishable items, such as meat, fruit and dairy, fresher for longer. For example, a shrink-wrapped cucumber can last up to three times longer than an unwrapped one. This may help reduce food waste.

shrink wrapped cucumbers

The harmful impacts of mismanaged plastics on our oceans and wildlife are well known. Wasted food poses a less obvious threat, but arguably one that is as important. This is because of all the energy and resources needed in its production, transport and use. All this goes to waste when we don't eat what we've bought. Wasted food in the UK is thought to be responsible for the equivalent of 25million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year (WRAP, 2020).

Finding ways to stop food from becoming waste is essential, and packaging can have a part to play in this.

See our top tips and recipes for easy ways to reduce food waste in your kitchen.

Find out more

Find answers to your questions on plastics and packaging at

Find out what Central and Local Government, retailers and manufacturers are doing:
• reducing food waste through the Courtauld Commitment
• reducing plastic packaging through the Plastics Pact
• preventing problematic single-use items through bans, e.g. straws, stirrers and cotton buds

The Food Waste Doctor summarises the important role of packaging in reducing food waste.

The Isonomia blog discusses how integral plastic has become in our daily lives.

More ideas from Money Saving Expert for reducing plastic and saving money.