More than 40 businesses have signed up to WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact, which seeks to cut drastically the amount of plastic waste in the environment.
Its targets to 2025 are:
- Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models.
- 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
- 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted
- 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging
WRAP said the UK pact was the first of its kind, but it would be replicated in other countries as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ’New Plastics Economy’ initiative. Chile is expected to be next.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if the Government, businesses and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place.
”I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.”
WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover called the pact “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage that plastic waste wreaks on our planet”.
He said this could be achieved only by bringing together organisations across the entire plastics value chain.
The pact’s initial focus will be on identifying projects that deliver the greatest impact in the short and long term, such as overcoming barriers to increasing the amount of recycled content used in new packaging, developing reusable packaging and seeking solutions to the problem of non-recyclable black plastic.
Among the 42 businesses signed up to the pact are Asda, Marks & Spencer, Pennon, Suez Recycling and Recovery, Veolia and Waitrose. Support has also come from 15 organisations including the British Plastics Federation, British Retail Consortium and Environmental Services Association.
But consultancy Eunomia said statutory measures should be implemented, rather that relying on non-binding agreements.
In a social media statement, Eunomia chairman Dominic Hogg said: ”We support the objectives of the Plastics Pact - we just don’t think they should be voluntary.
”Business leaders taking action on issues such as climate change haven’t told government to stay out of the way - they’ve asked them to lead the way. It should be the same with plastics.”
Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “The UK Plastics Pact has the potential to transform plastics recycling.
“It is good to see efforts to tackle single-use plastics and that the waste hierarchy has been taken into consideration to encourage reuse and recycling. In particular, a requirement for an average of 30% recycled content in all plastic packaging will help to ensure markets for recyclable plastics are sustainable.
“One concern we have is that the pact allows for plastic packaging to be compostable, and we would hope that manufacturers and retailers will focus more on reuse and recycling of plastics. There is a danger that compostable plastic packaging will make it harder to sort and recycle plastics.
”We must there ensure that this pact creates the highest quality recycled plastic to make it possible to meet the 30% recycled content target.”