42 companies have signed a UK Plastics Pact, which commits them to cutting pollution as part of the UK’s overall plastics strategy.
Development of the UK Plastics Pact was led by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a charity working to increase sustainability and develop a circular economy in Britain. Signatories to the pact include many of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, as well as international companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola.
The stakeholders committed to the pact are responsible for more than 80% of plastic packaging on products in the UK. Also among the pact’s supporters are trade associations, charities, campaigners and the UK government, which has previously announced an ambitious strategy to tackle plastic waste.
What does the pact involve?
The UK Plastics Pact is voluntary and does not contain any enforcement mechanisms. Despite this, its signatories make a number of pledges to reducing plastic waste between now and 2025, including:
- Ensuring all plastic packaging is reuseable, recyclable or biodegradable;
- Eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic through better design;
- Including recycled plastic in at least 30% of all packaging; and
- Guaranteeing that 70% of plastic is effectively recycled or composted.
These targets have been welcomed by environmental campaigners, including organisations such as Friends of the Earth, but some have also warned that regulation and enforcement mechanisms must be developed alongside the pact to ensure that it proves effective.
How has WRAP responded?
Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, emphasised the need for the UK Plastics Pact in mobilising action against plastic waste, in light of both the UK’s commitments and a wider EU plastics strategy. He warned that if the problem is not tackled soon, it could be too late.
Gover said: “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. This requires a whole scale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act.”
He added that the broad reach of the new pact means that it could be vital to achieving this aim: “That is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique. It unites every body, business and organisation with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.”