WE’RE not as intelligent as we think we are if our abuse of plastic bottles and containers is anything to go by. Consider the following.

Worldwide over six billion plastic bottles are discarded annually and not recycled. That’s one million plastic bottles every minute, and it will be 20 percent higher in two years time. Since 1950 just one tenth of this total has been recycled, with barely another tenth incinerated leaving some eighty per cent just thrown away.

A tonne contains 20,000 plastic bottles and at least 200 million tonnes end up in the oceans annually resulting in at least 300,000 plastic fragments in every square kilometre. Much of this is in two huge Pacific garbage patches, each covering at least the area of six United Kingdoms.

By 2050 the plastic in the oceans will weigh more than all the fish and over a third of them have ingested plastic though it’s ninety per cent for sea birds. The smallest plastic particles enter the human and animal blood streams through the intestines as 83 percent of world tap water contains minute plastic particles, as does the urine of 95 percent of Americans.

Many European countries have a returnable deposit scheme on bottles and cups resulting in less waste. Norway recycles 95 percent, while Scotland and Wales are developing the same system. Encouragingly most African countries have banned plastic containers, as have some USA states.

England has now committed to a return payment system for drinks containers, in due course, despite Parliament buying two million single use plastic items last year, at least 1,500 per MP. This probably explains why ten percent of the waste in the Thames is plastic.

The answer - put all your empty plastic bottles in the recycling bin, refuse to buy drinks in single use cups and only buy milk in glass bottles..