Building on their individual efforts and those under the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)’s New Plastics Economy initiative, dozens of businesses have made their commitment to the new UK Plastics Pact. These Pact members include major food and drink brands, manufacturers and retailers right through to plastic preprocessors, and are collectively responsible for over 80 percent of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets.
The Pact was launched today by the waste reduction experts at WRAP. Initial members include 42 businesses such as Asda, Coca-Cola, Cranswick, Danone, Marks and Spencer (M&S), Nestlé, Novamont, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Sainsbury’s, SUEZ, Tesco, Unilever, Veolia, and Waitrose. An additional 15 organizations that have also shown their commitment to the Pact, such as the British Plastics Federation, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Keep Britain Tidy, the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and UK Hospitality.
Led by WRAP, the Pact aim to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models, beginning with three ambitious targets for 2025:
• 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
“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,” said WRAP CEO Marcus Gover. “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. It unites everybody, business and organization with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.”
The immediate focus will be on identifying the priority projects that will deliver greatest impacts 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 working with partners to overcome the issue of un-recyclable black plastic. Ultimately the Pact hopes to stimulate innovative new business models to reduce the total amount of plastic packaging, help build a stronger recycling system with more ownership of plastic waste, ensure plastic packaging can be effectively recycled and made into new products and packaging, and with the support of governments, ensure consistent UK recycling.
“Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realized if government, businesses and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place,” said Michael Gove, UK Environment Secretary. “I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.”
The UK Plastics Pact is the first of its kind in the world. It will be replicated in other countries to form a powerful global movement for change as part of the EMF’s New Plastics Economy initiative.
“We are delighted to launch this pioneering national implementation initiative with WRAP in the UK. This bold new pact will bring together businesses, policymakers and the public to create a circular economy for plastics that tackles the causes of plastics waste and pollution, not just the symptoms. Focusing on innovation, better packaging design and end-of-use systems will not only generate long-term benefits for the environment, but is also a huge economic opportunity,” said EMF founder Ellen MacArthur. “We encourage others around the world to help drive this momentum towards finding global solutions to what is a global problem.”
For its part, the UK government has been waging war on plastic waste this year: a national action plan to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042 was unveiled in January, and Defra announced in March that it will be introducing a national bottle deposit return scheme.