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PLASTIC WASTE – BUSINESS LED ACTION THROUGH THE UK PLASTICS PACK

I am sure that most of you are aware that the ‘UK Ban Single Use Plastic’ announced earlier this year was not all it was packaged up to be, in that:

  • the legislation is not being brought in until April 2020
  • it covers only three items (plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems)
  • it is not a ban…

Instead of writing further on this, I thought it may be more useful/ inspiring to be reminded of a business led initiative, operating in the UK which appears to have some traction – WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact. But first, a few thoughts as to why businesses may have volunteered to take action, apart from a sense of “doing the right thing”:

  • customer relations – plastic pollution is a hot topic right now so we all want to be doing something, so by choosing to work with a business with similar ethics and values makes us feel more comfortable
  • cutting waste in itself can mean can mean cutting costs and enhancing profit
  • further legislation is (probably) coming together with ‘plastic packaging tax’…

WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact

 So, what is the ‘UK Plastics Pact’?  As reported in Edie on 25 May:

  • “Backed by the UK Government and launched by not-for-profit WRAP, the UK Plastics Pact purported to be the first commitment of its kind, uniting corporates across the plastic value chain in a bid to improve recyclability, champion reuse and foster plastic-free innovations
  • Its original 42 members, which include the likes of Nestlé, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Unilever, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and PepsiCo, were responsible for more than 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold in UK supermarkets at the time of its launch in April 2018
  • Since then, the initiative has grown to reach 127 members, garnering support from waste management firms, local authorities, universities and SMEs alongside the founding food and drinks and consumer goods giants
  • Under the pact, signatories made four main commitments for 2025: eliminating unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign; making all plastic packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable; achieving recycling and composting rates of 70% or more for packaging, and including 30% recycled content across all packaging”

The first annual report was issued in May 2019 and can be found here. I would suggest that anyone with an interest in reducing packaging waste has a scan through the report.  I found some of the reported savings staggering (in terms of tonnes of plastic eliminated) and uplifting.  It is also interesting to note that a number of organisations referenced were already removing/ replacing plastic straws and plastic stems on cotton buds.

More information

A colleague of mine recently attended the “Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum policy conference: Food waste reduction and new initiatives for reducing plastic packaging waste” and his follow up blog post can be found here.

For those of you interested in reading more on next steps/ action plan for UK Plastics Pact, I would direct to A roadmap to 2025 and also of interest on the WRAP website may be:

By Andrew James

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