Humanity is choking itself and the rest of the planet with its consumption of plastic.

Now the stuff is literally everywhere: on the land, in the seas, infecting the food chain and in the air.

The excellent BBC programme War on Plastic, presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Rani, brought home just how huge the problems being caused by plastic consumption are.

It was estimated that there are 19.5 billion single-use plastic items in the UK at any one time. And these usage levels are set to triple by 2025.

Some 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced each year in the UK. Then there are the 8 billion plastic bottles produced last year. The list goes on.

Something clearly needs to be done. At an individual level we can all aim to cut out single use plastic. Locally, Redbridge Council is aiming to cut single use plastic in its various facilities as part of the new waste strategy. The Wanstead Environmental Charter aims to cut plastic from the high street and beyond.

Shops can certainly do a lot. At the moment they are not really serious, just doing what they think they can get away with.

The fact that supermarkets charge much more for loose fruit and vegetables than they do for what is wrapped up in plastic containers says it all.

It is also noticeable that with something like tea, where consumers are moving away from bags due to the plastic content that the supermarkets are not exactly falling over themselves to provide the alternative loose tea.

The makers of War on Plastic attempted to shame the supermarkets over plastic promotion. This included direct action like a group of people taking back all the plastic packaging to the store concerned. Also, confronting the head office with anomalies like charging less for packaged goods. However, it is high time that government stepped in.

Look how quickly the plastic bag epidemic reduced when government finally imposed a 10p charge. Similarly, look at the impact on smoking when it was banned from public places.

Government is in a position to virtually outlaw single use plastic by prohibition as well as the use of tax incentives. The whole area of the environmental crisis could be seriously addressed if there were people in government not beholden to the very people who profit from promoting this damaging way of living. The measures required could easily be put in place, so why the delay?

The tide of plastic can be turned around. It requires us as individuals to stop using the stuff, reuse wherever possible and recycle. Also, put pressure on the supermarkets to act, take the waste plastic back and question why loose goods cost more than those packaged in plastic.

Why not join supporters of a cleaner, greener Wanstead and return your plastic between 11 and 12 to the supermarkets -Tesco, Co-op and M&S on Wanstead high street, where you originally bought the items. Please include a message with your plastic as to why you want to see single plastic use banned.

We must, though, get government to act to stop this deluge of waste that is choking the planet.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See