“So, for every item of packaging we need to consider whether plastic is the right material choice, or indeed if packaging is required at all.”
UK retail giants and well-known brands have signed up to an ambitious plan to ban eight plastic items by the end of 2020.
Retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Boots, and Asda, have collectively pledged to put an end to use of plastic that is damaging to the environment “as soon as possible”. Well-known brands like Coca-Cola, Ecover and Britvic have also signed up to the environmental initiative called the UK Plastics Pact.
Single-use plastic items that are included in the list include disposable cutlery, plates and bowls, polystyrene packaging, cotton buds with plastic stems, plastic stirrers, plastics that fragment into microplastics, plastic straws and PVC packaging.
A total of 76 businesses, including those that are responsible for 85% of plastic packaging sold through supermarkets, have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact.
As well as the initial eight plastic items, there were nineteen other single-use plastic items and materials that pact signatories were targeting, including plastic bags. Under the agreement, the pact members have been urged to develop solutions that address issues related to “how we purchase and use these items through either avoidance, reuse, redesign and/or recycling or composting by 2025”.
The pact is overseen by environmental charity WRAP(@WRAP_UK). WRAP Director Peter Maddox said it was fundamental that the industry responded to public concern around the use of plastics.
He added: “The fundamental way industry can support this public desire is by addressing the issues that lead to plastic packaging being problematic.
“So, for every item of packaging we need to consider whether plastic is the right material choice, or indeed if packaging is required at all. In many cases, plastic may be the best material choice from an environmental perspective. In these cases, we need to ensure that the plastic can be and is recycled. The items listed today are priorities for UK Plastics Pact members, and the onus is on those members to implement changes, urgently.”
Commenting on the pact, Coca-Cola European Partners (@CocaColaEP), Vice President & General Manager, Leendert den Hollander, said that it represented a key milestone, which brought together a range of stakeholder under one common goal.
He added: “In our GB Packaging Strategy we committed to recover all of our packaging so that so that more is recycled and none ends up as litter, and we are doubling the amount of recycled plastic in our bottles to 50% by 2020.”
Tom Domen, Ecover Global Innovation Lead, said: “Ecover (@EcoverUK) has always worked to minimise the impact of its packaging on the environment, introducing refills and renewable plant-based plastic and more recently launching the Ecover Ocean Plastic limited edition bottle.
“Ecover has now set itself the bold ambition to use 100% recycled plastic in all bottles by 2020, to introduce recycled content into its caps from 2018 and to trial new, non-plastic, fully marine biodegradable materials that are still recyclable by 2020.”
WRAP will now be developing individual action plans with UK Plastics Pact members to ensure that progress is made on this longer list as quickly as possible. In addition, these lists will be kept under constant review by WRAP to ensure the target of eliminating problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging is met by 2025.