London Mayor urged to eliminate single-use plastic packaging from capital

Members of the Environment Committee have urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to sign the capital up to WRAP's UK Plastics Pact, amid growing public concerns around plastic pollution.

A recent study found that 75% of flounders in the River Thames had ingested plastic

A recent study found that 75% of flounders in the River Thames had ingested plastic

In an open letter sent to Khan on Monday (1 October), the Committee’s deputy chair Léonie Cooper encouraged the Mayor to build on his One Less Bottle campaign by signing the Pact – a move she claimed would “bring in the full range of stakeholders” to provide greater support or the effort.

Launched in April, the Pact requires signatories to take a series of actions to make unnecessary single-use plastic packaging "a thing of the past". Among these actions are eliminating single-use packaging through redesign by 2025, and ensuring that all other plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.

The Pact has been signed by 99 organisations so far, including big-name brands such as Nestlé, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Unilever as well as the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Cooper wrote in the open letter that committing London to the Pact would serve to bridge the gap between the rapid pace of business actions against plastic and slower policy changes. She cited the example of the Co-op, which last month pledged to replace its plastic carrier bags to compostable alternatives, as an example of corporate commitments outpacing local authority action.

“A lot of good work is underway to tackle plastic waste, but recycling rates in the capital are still embarrassingly low,” Cooper wrote.

“This is partly because recycling remains a needlessly confusing subject for many people. Too often, there are conflicting instructions across borough boundaries while poor communication between industry and local authorities adds an unnecessary layer of confusion.”

“Breaking down the barriers to better plastic recycling is a matter of life and death and Londoners need a proper push to deliver the change they so clearly want to make,” she added.

Wasting London’s Future?

The open letter follows on from the Committee’s ‘Wasting London’s Future’ report, which urged Khan to adopt circular economy principles in a bid to encourage Londoners to re-frame waste streams as resource sources.

Published in March, the report sets out 14 recommendations to help London achieve its 2030 target of a 65% recycling rate, set against a 2017 baseline of 52%. Among the recommendations are the introduction of specific targets for circular economy procurement, the publication of trajectories for each borough’s recycling rates and the announcement of an aim for London to become a zero-waste export city.

Since the publication of the report, Khan has unveiled ambitious plans to make the capital the "greenest" city in the world by 2050, with a series of targets covering waste and recycling as well as air pollution and renewable energy procurement.

With a headline goal of becoming a zero-waste city, the London Environment Strategy (LES) sets out targets of halving London’s food waste per person by 2030 and sending no biodegradable or recyclable waste to landfill by 2026.

Sarah George


Tags

| sadiq khan | waste management | Plastics

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Waste & resource management | CSR & ethics
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