The UK is ramping up the war on plastic pollution

Posted on 08 January 2019.

More than 40 major companies in the UK have signed the "Anti-Plastic Pact" initiated by the environmental organization WRAP. The goal is 100% reusable, recyclable or biodegradable plastic packaging by 2025.

A major step forward: signatories to the pact are responsible for 80% of the plastic packaging produced in the UK

The United Kingdom has declared war on plastic pollution. In January 2018, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a comprehensive plan to fight plastic waste. The goal is to eliminate all "avoidable" plastic waste in the UK by 2025. A priority, given that only 43% of the 13 billion plastic bottles used every year in the country are recycled.
While several of the country’s environmental organizations consider the scheme insufficient, around 40 major producers and distributors have expressed their commitment to it. They have signed the UK Plastics Pact, which has been launched by the sustainable development group Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) with the support of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Signatories include Coca-Cola, Nestle, Danone, Lidl, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Procter & Gamble. They aim to put an end to the disposable culture which is polluting our ecosystems and adopt a more circular approach to the life cycle of plastic.
Under the pact the signatories undertake to ensure that by 2025 100% of their plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable. In seven years therefore, all plastic packaging must be designed to have a second life rather than ending up in landfill, or worse still, in the environment. The pact also provides for 70% of packaging being actually recycled by the same date.
In the future packaging must also contain at least 30% recycled material. Finally, the major signatory firms have committed to eliminating the use of plastics "when problematic or unnecessary", such as outer packaging, for example.
It’s a big step forward because together, these manufacturers are responsible for 80% of the plastic packaging produced in the country.


Government commitment

Signing this pact falls within the government’s proactive policy to stem plastic pollution.
After requiring all retailers to charge for plastic bags - a measure passed in January 2018 - a series of other provisions were under discussion as the summer of 2018 approached. Among them, introducing a deposit system for plastic bottles, and a general ban on single-use plastics such as cotton buds, stirrers and straws. In point of fact the UK is among the biggest consumers of drinking straws: 8.5 billion of them end up in landfill every year!
The British Prime Minister hopes that the wind of the circular economy will also blow Commonwealth member countries in the same direction. Its goal: to eliminate all avoidable plastics there by 2042.