Single-use Plastics

Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging.

What we’re doing at Huntingdon Primary

We’ve been thinking hard about what we can do at HPS to reduce our use of single-use plastics. Before we can come up with a plan of action we first need to know what’s going on in our school.

Each year group has been tasked with surveying the use of single-use plastics in and around their learning environment. This includes plastics used by the children, and the adults too! Once we have a good idea about the scale of the problem, we will be coming up with an action plan. Read the year groups findings below.


We investigated the school office area.
We found some examples of single use plastics including laminating pockets, bottles, plastic bags and food wrappers. The office staff explained that some of the plastic they use can be recycled, but some cannot.

Did you know?
Things that can be recycled have a recycling sign on them. The recycling sign is three arrows.

Year 1

We went around the school and we looked at the plastic usage in  the children’s lunch boxes.

We looked to see if your water bottle was reusable or disposable, a single use plastic. We also looked at how your food was stored; was it in a multi-use box or was it stored in cling film or a plastic food bag. Finally we looked at what other single use plastic you had in your bag such as a crisp packet or a straw.

Year 2

Did you know over 50% of adults surveyed said they did not   bring their lunch to school in a reusable container?

We know that 20% of adults (surveyed) at lunchtime are still using single use plastic water bottles.

80% of adults at HPS have said they want to change their lunchtimes habits in accordance to single use plastic.

Year 3

Single-use plastics are used on a wide range of products at the Snack Shack. These include: water, breadsticks, fruit, cheese and popcorn.

  • Nearly 300 children attend the Snack Shack everyday. That’s 1,500 children a week.  That’s 54,000 visits a year.
  • Thousands of single-use plastic enters the environment every year from OUR Snack Shack.

Year 4

On the average day at HPS, 259 children pass through the dinner halls to have school meals… in other words that’s about 1,295 meals served every week.

The kitchen don’t just cook our food but have to store it too, often in single-use plastic bags.

Currently, the only products recycled from the kitchen are paper and cardboard, which means that all single-plastics are currently thrown in the black bin.  Therefore we are contributing to the 5 million tonnesof plastic waste generated each year in the UK.

Year 5

Kitchen questions:

How many plastic bags do you throw away?
About 30 a week.
What products come in single use plastic?
Most of our food does. Things like fruit, pasta, bread etc.
How could you improve things?
We could get children to recycle fruit pots instead of binning them. We can’t reuse them though.

Year 6

Did you know, scientists and environment groups predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean!

Single-use plastics (also known as disposable plastics) are only used once and then thrown away.

Did you know, we produce 300 million tonnes of plastic each year and only half of it is recyclable!

Even when single-use plastics are sent to the landfill site, this doesn’t mean they are forgotten about. They are very harmful!

Single-use plastic can’t biodegrade (dissolve into the ground), but they break down into tiny particles which releases the toxic chemicals hidden inside the plastic.

These chemicals then end up in our water supply and food sources.

The main cause for the increase in single-use plastics is food packaging.

Plastic packaging created 42% of all non-fibre plastic produced in 2015.

So what next?

Our children will be coming up with a plastics action plan and putting steps in place to reduce our use of single-use plastics. Watch out for more news!

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