Single-use products include plastic bottles, sandwich packaging, wet wipes and disposable coffee cups that are only used once, often for just a few minutes, before being thrown away.

These single-use products can be difficult to recycle and are often found as litter. They pollute waterways and the environment. Single-use items that are made from plastic do not biodegrade or decompose. And large amounts of natural resources and energy are used to make these single-use products which just go to waste. 

How you can help


Join our Swap2Save campaign and swap single-use products for reusable alternatives. Make a difference out and about, at home, school or work.

For example, could you:

  • Use a flannel/washable make-up remover pads instead of wet wipes or cotton wool pads
  • Swap your disposable coffee cup for a refillable one

Go to Norfolk Recycles for more swap ideas. How many things can you swap? Tell us and sign up to the pledge. Share your swaps with us on social media using #Swap2Save.

Swap2Save: How many swaps can you make? It's easy to swap single use products for re-usable ones.

Swap2Save animation transcript

0:00 Banjo is strummed. Swap 2 Save logo lands on screen.

0:004 Banjo music with animation of plastic bottles and fish swimming around against a blue tablecloth background.

Text on screen: [Pop noise] Single-use products will pollute the planet for centuries. [Pop noise] Scientists predict that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 … [pop noise] unless we change our habits.

0:14 Banjo music continues.

Text on Screen: 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought across the UK each year.

0:16 Noise of plastic bottles falling onto a table and being swiped away by a hand.

0:19 Pinging noise. A re-usable bottle appears on the screen.

Text on screen: Take a reusable bottle.

0:22 Water noise. Text on screen: Use the Refill app to find a free refill station…

0:25 Noise of person drinking water and feeling refreshed. Sound of coin chinks into piggy bank.

Text on screen: Saving the planet and £1 per refill!

Banjo music finishes.

0:29 Do do do music with animation of packs of sandwiches appearing one by one with a popping noise onto a green gingham tablecloth background.

Text on screen: We eat 6 million shop-bought sandwiches in non-recyclable packaging a day.

0:34 Noise of person clicking their fingers.

Text on screen: Make your own packed lunch.

0:36 Noise: Popping noise as ingredients for a ham, cheese and lettuce sandwich on brown bread appear being made into a sandwich.

0:38 Man’s voice says ‘yum’ as hands lift sandwich into re-usable lunch box.

Text on screen: asterisk in a reusable container.

0:41 Text on screen: Save the planet and at least 50p a day! Coin chink noise as coin goes into the piggy bank.

0:46 Hurrying music. Text on screen: Single-use products like wet wipes and cotton pads, make up 50% of the rubbish in our rivers and seas.

0:48 Scrubbing noise as lip-stick is cleaned off the back of a hand with a wet wipe.

0:51 Pinging noise as cotton flannel appears on screen.

Text on Screen: Cotton flannels can be washed and reused …

0:58 Noise: children cheer. Text on screen: Switching to flannels saves the planet and £30 a year!

1:01 Bouncy music, shaking noise. Text on screen: 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used and thrown away every year in the UK.

1:03 Whistling noises as three disposable coffee cups are placed on table, full of tea and coffee.

1:06 Popping noise, then slurping noises as contents of cups are drunk.

1:09 Crunching noise as middle coffee cup is squashed.

1:10 Ching and popping noises as reusable cups appear on screen, Text on screen: Use a reusable cup…

1:12: Chink of money into piggy bank noise. Text on screen: Save the planet and up to 25p a time!

1:15 Person whistling and noise of plant pots being whisked through air. Hands plant seeds in pots.

Text on screen: 500 million plastic plant pots are used in the UK every year – most can’t be recycled.

1:21 Noise of person clicking fingers and then popping noise. Egg boxes and toilet roll tubes appear.

1:22 Whistling continues. Text on screen: Creating your own seed trays from toilet rolls or egg boxes…

1:28 Zoom in close-up noise. Test on screen … Saves the planet and around 50p a tray!

1:30 Clinking noise as coin goes into piggy bank

1:31 Shaking noise as whole screen shakes. Swap to Save logo appears.

1:33 Text on screen: How many swaps can you make? Tell us: #swap2save, website address: www.norfolkrecycles.com/swap2save

Sky lanterns and balloons

Releasing sky lanterns and balloons causes problems for our environment and wildlife. You, your school, organisation or business can help stop this – find out more and sign up to the pledge.

Leading from the front

Norfolk County Council decided to do something about reducing the use of single-use products at County Hall. We also wanted to encourage staff to think about their use of single-use products, and how they could make changes individually. We looked at a number of areas to see what we could do better.

Cut down our single-use

    • Our cleaning services reduced their use of disposable wipes, using cloths and liquids/sprays instead
    • We buy cleaning products in-bulk and in concentrated form. We avoid over-use with dosing systems.
    • Our procurement team buy containers in-bulk and choose environmentally friendly materials
    • We have recycling facilities across our buildings, including food bins
    • We encourage staff to minimise paper by using technology and printing double-sided
    • We put focus on influencing national policies on plastics, litter, waste reduction, future targets and the circular economy
    • We use re-usable products in County Hall's restaurant and shop, eg we:
      • Avoid individually wrapped products where possible
      • Use tongs and paper bags for sale snack items
      • Have a ‘bring your own lunchbox’ scheme, giving 10p off takeaway items
      • Use reusable cutlery
      • Have returnable china mugs instead of disposable coffee cups
      • Use a mains water cooler with reusable glasses
      • Use large, refillable dispensers instead of sauce sachets
      • Use milk jugs instead of UHT milk cartons

    Started food savvy lunch club

    Our waste team ran food savvy lunch club to challenge 50 staff volunteers to remove single-use packaging from their lunchboxes.

    After the four-week challenge, 88% said their single-use packaging had reduced during lunch.

    Find out more

    Everyone can get involved to reduce single use. You’ll save the planet, and save yourself money by using reusable things instead of throwaway items. Go to Norfolk Recycles for more information.