Plastics Pact Roadmap unveiled as campaigners condemn high-street plastic action

A roadmap to help UK businesses tackle the global plastic waste problem has been published, on the same day that research has claimed that British supermarkets are still not doing enough to reduce their plastic footprint.

The actions set out in WRAP’s new roadmap are aligned with the targets of the UK Plastics Pact, the deal signed by 68 UK businesses to curb plastic waste through collaboration across the entire supply chain.

As part of the Pact, companies such as Nestlé, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Unilever have pledged to eliminate single-use packaging through redesign by 2025. The Pact will also see members ensure that 100% of plastic packaging can be reusable, recyclable or compostable.

WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said: “I’m very impressed with progress made in the first six months since we launched the Pact. This is proving to be a powerful and motivated group.

“The roadmap is a real opportunity for them to forge ahead and make change happen at scale, and in significant ways.”

The Plastics Pact Roadmap 2025 is a living document which will evolve over time, reflecting changes in policy and innovations. It has set interim targets for recycling and recycled content, which will require investment in the UK recycling infrastructure, WRAP claims.

Gove said the targets could not be delivered by business action alone. “It needs policy intervention as well as consumers to play a part,” he explained. “Factors like Extended Producer Responsibility are going to have a profound influence on momentum, and effecting change in areas such as collections, recycling and reprocessing.”

The need to drive demand for recycled content was highlighted in the recent Autumn Budget, which set out plans for a new tax on plastic packaging that doesn’t include at least 30% recycled content.

Supermarket sweep

Publication of the Roadmap comes on the same day as research from Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigations Agency revealed that UK supermarkets put 810,000 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging on to the market every year. This is in addition to more than 1.1 billion single-use bags and 958 million bags for life.

The survey, which polled the top 11 UK supermarkets and six grocery convenience store chains, found that only half had specific targets to reduce plastic packaging. Most of those who do are moving at such as slow pace (just 5% a year) that it would take them 20 years to rid their shelves of throwaway plastics, the research found.

The likes of Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are yet to adopt plastic-specific reduction targets, while only four supermarkets offer customers some option of refillable containers. Greenpeace claims that all of these organisations are committed more on recycling than on single-use plastic reduction.

Greenpeace Elana Polisano commented: “Much of the throwaway plastic packaging filling up our homes comes from supermarket shelves, but high-street giants are still not taking full responsibility for it.

“So far, most retail bosses have responded to growing concern from customers with a pick-and-mix of different plastic announcements, but have failed to come up with the coherent plastic reduction plans required to solve this problem.”

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie