Unilever, Arla and PepsiCo are among the 57 businesses and organisations which have signed up to a “world-first” initiative to transform the plastic packaging system in the UK and keep plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.
The UK Plastics Pact, launched today by the charity Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), is a collaboration which brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with the UK government and NGOs in a bid to tackle the scourge of plastic waste.
Food and drink companies as well as manufacturers, packaging suppliers and retailers have made a commitment to the pact. WRAP said the members of the initiative “are responsible for over 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets”.
The collective has committed to a series of ambitious targets by 2015: the elimination of unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative delivery models; making sure 100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; aiming for 70% of plastic packaging to be effectively recycled or composted.
Other companies which have signed up include Coca-Cola European Partners, Nestlé, Lidl and Tesco. WRAP said it expects the initiative will be replicated in other countries to form a powerful global movement for change as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.
The pact aims for 70% of plastic packaging to be effectively recycled or composted.
WRAP CEO Marcus Gover said: “Together, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage plastic waste wreaks on our planet.
“This requires a wholescale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act. That is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique. It unites everybody, business and organisation with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.”
Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “We are delighted to launch this pioneering national implementation initiative with WRAP in the UK. This bold new pact will bring together businesses, policymakers and the public to create a circular economy for plastics that tackles the causes of plastics waste and pollution, not just the symptoms.
“Focussing on innovation, better packaging design and end-of-use systems will not only generate long-term benefits for the environment, but is also a huge economic opportunity. We encourage others around the world to help drive this momentum towards finding global solutions to what is a global problem.”
The announcement follows a succession of pledges this year by companies promising to cut down on plastic usage in the face of growing consumer concern.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman called on the food and beverage industry to accelerate progress towards a circular economy and address the challenge of single-use plastics.
The UK government last week committed £61.4 million of funding to boost global research into plastic waste and help Commonwealth countries stop plastic from entering oceans.
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