UK Plastics Pact ‘set to eliminate one billion unnecessary single-use items’

Pact members range from manufacturers to brands and retailers and waste management firms

That is according to WRAP’s first annual report on the Pact, which publicly reveals, for the first time, baseline data regarding how much plastic signatory companies were putting onto the market before the Pact’s inception in spring 2018 – while tracking progress towards the Pact’s four targets.

The report reveals that the 127+ members of the pact collectively used 1.1 billion pieces of “problematic” and unnecessary single-use plastic during 2018 – largely in the form of consumer-facing packaging and product parts.

One of the Pact’s core commitments for signatories is to eliminate “problematic” and unnecessary single-use plastic by 2025. WRAP’s latest report reveals strong progress in this area, with one billion fewer items in these categories set to be distributed in 2020 than in 2018. The strongest progress in this space has come from supermarkets, WRAP claims, with most having removed plastic straw multipacks ahead of the Government’s national ban, and all having committed to stop distributing plastic cutlery by the end of 2020.

WRAP also noted strong progress in removing plastic packaging from fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly by Waitrose, Morrisons, Asda and Marks & Spencer (M&S). Supermarkets signed up to the Pact have, to date, taken 3,400 tonnes of plastic packaging and 137.5 million plastic stickers off of their produce lines.

The bigger picture

WRAP’s new report also tracks member progress against the Pact’s three other 2025 targets: making all plastic packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable; achieving recycling and composting rates of 70% or more for packaging, and including 30% recycled content across all packaging.

On the former, the body noticed slow progress. 65% of the plastic packaging put on the market by Pact members was classed as recyclable by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation this year, the same proportion as last year. Materials which businesses are struggling to find recyclable alternatives for include PE and PP films; multi-layer materials; black plastics and PET film. Progress has been better in terms of PVC and polystyrene, which Pact members have vowed to phase out by the end of 2020.

As for boosting recycling and composting rates, the report reveals that national recycling rates for plastics now stand at 44%, after years of stagnation between 30-40%. It praises Pact members for joining the On-Pack Recycling Labelling Scheme, with some companies, including Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), PepsiCo and Danone going beyond compliance with this scheme in favour of bolder labelling. It additionally notes that retailer members such as Asda and Tesco have implemented measures to help consumers recycle soft plastics in store, and that waste management members have collectively invested more than £93m in domestic recycling infrastructure.

Lastly, with regards to recycled content, WRAP’s report reveals that members, on average, used 10% recycled content in their plastics packaging in 2019, putting them on track for the 2025 target. Some companies have already exceeded the target, including the likes of Highland Spring, Dasani and Dove, while others, like Asda and Procter & Gamble (P&G), are due to exceed it within the next year.

Single-use Plastics: The Business Leadership Inspiration Sessions

Brought to you during edie’s Mission Possible Plastics Week 2020, the Business Leadership Inspiration Sessions offer up an afternoon of three live, interactive webinar presentations and discussions – all dedicated to helping businesses collaborate, innovate and actuate to eliminate single-use plastics.

This exclusive online event, sponsored by PHS Group and Reconomy, is being hosted by the edie editorial team on the afternoon of Thursday 16 January 2020. Registrants will gain access to three live and interactive webinar sessions: a Q&A debate (1pm–1.45pm); a selection of best-practice case studies (2pm–3pm); and a 45-minute masterclass (3.15pm–4pm).

Full information and free registration can be found here. 

Sarah George

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