42 Major Companies Join the UK Plastics Pact to Cut Waste

Major names like Asda and Coca-Cola have joined together to form the UK Plastics Pact, a voluntary pact that aims to make 100 percent of signatories’ plastic waste ready for recycling by 2025.

Sustainability group WRAP is leading the effort, which bills this as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to take on plastics waste and reduce the more than eight million metric tons of plastic currently clogging our planet.

The Pact involves 42 signatories “including major food, drink and non-food brands, manufacturers and retailers right through to plastic reprocessors and packaging suppliers”, according to the Pact’s press release.

The aim  is to deliver real and meaningful action on a range of plastic waste issues.  These goals include:

  • Ending unnecessary or “problematic” plastic packaging.
  • Making all plastic packaging either recyclable or compostable.
  • Ensuring that 70 of plastic packaging is efficiently recycled.
  • Having 30 percent of all plastic products be made from recycled materials.

This voluntary pact puts the organizations far ahead of current government targets and, if the companies stick to these promises, could see significant reductions in both new plastics and plastics waste.

“Together, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage plastic waste wreaks on our planet.” WRAP CEO, Marcus Gover, said in a press release, “This requires a wholescale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act. That is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique.”

This pact has been welcomed by campaigners who say it is an important step. Nevertheless, some believe there is still a lot of work to be done.

Former Green Party Leader and campaigner on environmental issues, Natalie Bennett, praised the step but says it does not go far enough.

“How much better if an unnecessary item isn’t produced at all,” she told The Ecologist. “That more than 40 percent of the plastic produced goes into single-use packaging is shocking, even before you consider the fact that the world total is more than 300 million tonnes each year.”

Bennett cites the retailer Morrison’s as an example of a supermarket already going beyond this voluntary pact.

The Morrison’s chain has announced that it will trial unpackaged fruits and vegetables, while it will allow its customers to bring their own containers for things like fish and other meats. Nevertheless, Morrison’s has also joined the pact, showing that this “common ground” initiative may be beneficial for industry leaders to unite.

Similarly, Julian Kirby, plastics campaigner for Friends of the Earth, tells the BBC that government regulation and taxes are needed. “To discourage industry from using virgin plastic, and to boost their recycling and re-use of the material”.

Only by these top-down interventions do campaigners believe that we’ll be able to really make a meaningful dent in the  plastics problem, and in particular our manufacturing of virgin or new plastics.

Last month the UK government announced plans that it wanted to ban single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and drinks stirrers, but campaigners were quick to point out that unless the government followed through with concrete regulation, big businesses could still choose to ignore the guidance. And this lies at the heart of the issue.

It is absolutely critical that industry leaders like Sainsbury’s, Nestle and others involved in the UK Plastics Pact take action, and they should be commended for doing so. If they follow through on the changes they are promising, this would go some way into fighting the UK’s plastics waste problem, something that has become even more acute now that China is refusing to recycle waste goods from abroad.

Campaign groups say that the government needs to enact a ban on single use plastics on the high-street, and it should do so without delay if we are going to get a handle on this pollution crisis. Only that action can begin to turn the tide on the plastic waste that is currently flooding our planet.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

47 comments

KimJ M
KimJ M11 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M11 days ago

Plastic pollution needs to be urgently tackled

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KimJ M
KimJ M11 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M11 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M11 days ago

tfs

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Janis K
Janis K12 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Diane E
Diane Eabout a month ago

It's time to stop overpackaging of products and stop useless plastic decorations being attached to products to make them look "pretty". Please bring back more cardboard and fully recyclable or biodegradable packing. Please stop the use of wasteful plastic envelopes on magazines.

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John W
John Wabout a month ago

TYFST.

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Caitlin L
Caitlin Labout a month ago

thanks for posting

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Debbie B
Past Member 1 months ago

plastic s major for the environment its not bad its not in our oceans it just gets recycled or thankfully melted plastic is good not bad those photo shopped images you see its just that Photoshop fool me once shame on me fool the world twice shame on those idiot who photo shopped it

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