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OFCOM BBC Anti-Plastic Policy

Faith can move mountains but can OFCOM move the BBC?

There is only one way to find out so the following letter has been sent to OFCOM in the hope of some positive intervention.


Dear Sir / Madam,

BBC Anti-Plastic Policy

As I understand it, the BBC Charter requires its journalism to be impartial and it is part of your responsibility at OFCOM to ensure the BBC adheres to the charter. In these circumstances, can I draw your attention to the consistent anti-plastic bias which prevails at the BBC.

They have consistently, over several years, denigrated plastics in programme after programme. As a consequence, the majority of the public and most of our Politicians are unfortunately brain washed into believing that plastic is not only particularly bad for the environment, but also its use should be avoided at every opportunity.

The latest example of this anti-plastic bias is the new series, now being shown on the BBC

‘War on Plastic’

It is difficult to comprehend how can a program entitled ‘War on Plastic’ claim to be impartial? For example, the recent program shown September 1st spent over an hour highlighting all the disadvantages of the use of plastic and remarkably used the phrase ‘Single use plastic’ no less than 87 times!

At no point during the course of this programme could they find time for anyone to present an alternative industry view or find room for someone with a petro physics background, to give the viewer a more balanced view.

Should that have been the case, some of the following points could and should have been made,

1, The examples of plastic packaging which were shown, namely HDPE, milk bottles, PE produce wrap, or PET tray lidding films, all of these are 100% recyclable and not as stated in the programme ‘Single use plastic’.

2, Nor did they mention that over 50% of all plastic waste in the UK is recycled, an industry monitored and supervised by the Environment Agency. Once again highlighting that much of the plastic packaging used in the UK is recycled and not single use.

3, There are numerous life cycle analysis carried out by Governments and Scientists Worldwide. Without exception, this research concludes that plastic packaging has a lower carbon footprint in manufacture and uses less of the Earth’s resources than any alternative material, be it paper, board, glass, or tin. Thus, the use of plastic reduces Global Warming due to the reduced CO2 emissions in its manufacture and transport.   

4, Equally interesting to the viewer would have been that food waste is the World’s third highest source of greenhouse gas emissions (China number 1, USA number 2, food waste number 3). Plastic packaging is used to reduce food waste by up to 30% in the majority of the developed world. (As an example, a cucumber unwrapped has a shelf life of 3 days, wrapped in plastic 13 days).

5, Equally important to the viewer would have been the knowledge that all alternative materials to plastic are heavier and therefore generate more domestic waste. A glass bottle is up to 25 times heavier than a similar plastic bottle, as a consequence, there is more than 25 times more waste generated and 25 times more heavy goods vehicles on our roads for carrying the extra weight.

6, Finally, the plastic industry paid £280 Million in 2019 towards the collection and recycling of plastic waste. This collection and recycling is carried out under the control of the UK Environment Agency so the BBC could easily check where this £280 Million is being spent.

Despite having written several letters of complaint to the BBC, no credible response has yet been received (copies attached.) Whilst plastic litter is undoubtedly a problem as is separating some plastics for recycling, the advantages of plastic in all our lives are omitted and these far outweigh the disadvantages presented by the BBC.

It is in this area where the BBC consistently fails to be impartial.  

Their Management, Editorial staff and Producers are much more intent on presenting a distorted populist anti-plastics view, without any reference to the science, nor to the extensive research which demonstrates that when plastic is compared to alternative materials, the environmental benefits are significant.

In summary, the use of plastic Reduces Global Warming, Reduces food waste, Reduces packaging waste and Reduces the use of the Earth’s resources. The BBC should tell their viewers that.     

Yours sincerely

Barry Twigg



Please leave a comment using the form below

Alan Atkinson

Hi Barry, It will be really interesting to see what OFCOM has to say in response! All The Best Alan.

Fred McKechnie

Great letter. Plastic bias is shocking. Government follows the populist view and then creates an array of taxes again for no reason. The 30% tax on recycled content will annually increase just to raise taxes. Not for the benefit of the product. Taxes will not be reinvested but wasted.

Peter Preston

A very well constructed letter Barry and I really hope that OFCOM will respond having done their homework. The one thing that the images on the T.V and general media show is that irresponsible dumping of waste is the cause of the problem. Lastly I would like to say that in my opinion the most economical way to recycle waste plastic that is difficult for some companies to recycle is Energy from Waste.

Andy Jewell

A very good and succinct letter. Many more are needed from all avenues and a single petition (started by a plastics' industry body?) suggesting/requiring Parliamentary review would certainly help the cause.

Anthony Harrison

Excellent letter Barry. When I observe the bias and total lack of balance from the BBC on a topic which I am an expert in, it makes me disbelieve or question all other reports on all other topics from the BBC. If the BBC can be so one-eyed on this topic, what else are they not telling us on other topics which we aren't experts in? Worrying..Lost faith in the BBC and their now debunked claim to be the impartial voice on global topics.

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