One year since UK businesses across the plastics supply chain made a unique pact to tackle plastics pollution, WRAP has published a report of progress made by members to date. The report also details the pledges members have made to take action against the Pact’s targets in the near future.
• Unrecyclable plastics such as non-detectable black plastics and polystyrene are disappearing from UK supermarket shelves
• Members have started removing unnecessary single-use plastics such as straws and plastic cutlery
WRAP CEO Marcus Gover said: “When we launched The UK Plastics Pact a year ago, we knew that we had a monumental task on our hands. Tackling plastics pollution remains high in the public consciousness, and citizens quite rightly want to see action from the businesses that put plastic packaging onto our supermarket shelves and into our cafes and restaurants. So I’m delighted to celebrate the first anniversary of the Pact by revealing the huge array of initiatives members have been working on over the past year.
“The first year was about building solid foundations and setting a clear direction of travel for collaborative change. Moving forward there will be tough decisions to make, new innovations to foster, and investment to be made – all at great pace and with an urgency that reflects the scale of the problem we are tackling. Our members have shown they are up for the challenge, and we have great momentum to propel us forward. I’m convinced we are on the way to transforming forever the way we make, use and dispose of plastic.”
The UK Plastics Pact has set four ambitious targets by 2025, and members have reported progress against each one, demonstrating how collaboration across the entire plastics supply chain can deliver real change. Some examples against each target include:
Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models.
• M&S has replaced plastic cutlery with alternatives made from FSC certified wood and swapped plastic straws for paper versions. Waitrose has committed to stop selling plastic cutlery by the end of this year. Most retailers have removed plastic straws from sale and in cafes – Morrisons estimates that this removes approximately 30 tonnes of plastic and 65m straws per year
• Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Morrisons are trialling the removal of plastic packaging across several produce lines, to understand where plastic can be removed without impacting food waste
• Tesco, Asda and Aldi combined have removed almost 700 tonnes of non-recyclable polystyrene pizza bases by introducing a cardboard alternative
100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
• Members have reported widespread progress on removing unrecyclable black plastic from their packaging. For example, M&S phased out 1700 tonnes of black plastic packaging, Lidl has removed all black plastic packaging from primary fruit and vegetable packaging, and Ocado has removed it from 83 product lines, representing 90% of Ocado Own Brand lines that had black plastic. Brakes have removed 80% of black plastic (by weight) from its products. Other members, including Unilever, are working in collaboration with waste management companies to introduce a new type of black pigment for its personal care bottles that can be detected by infra-red scanners and therefore recycled.
• Morrisons has moved polystyrene egg boxes into paper pulp – saving 294 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic
• Unilever is making all PG Tips tea bags biodegradable when placed in your food waste caddy
• Several supermarkets now welcome the use of customers’ own containers at fresh food counters
• Reckitt Benckiser has removed the metal components from Cillit Bang, Vanish and Dettol cleaning triggers, as this is problematic for the recycling process
70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted.
• Members have reported significantly enhanced communications to citizens about what can be recycled across the board. All retailer members and a large number of brands are signed up to the On-Pack Recycling Labelling scheme to provide clear messaging on what can or cannot be recycled.
• Boots has run a trial to understand the effectiveness of adding front of pack recycling messages on their bathroom toiletries
• Hovis now include a recycling logo on the front of a range of bread bags to let citizens know that this packaging can be recycled with carrier bags at larger stores
• Coca-Cola has introduced a “Please Recycle Me” message on over 500 million of its bottle tops each year, and Britvic included a “Please Recycle” message on its recent Robinsons Fruit Creations TV advert.
• PepsiCo (Walkers Crisps) launched the UK’s first nationwide crisp packet recycling scheme – it’s free, accepts any crisp packet brand and has already collected 2.4million packets
30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.
• Danone has reported that all Evian 75cl, 1L and 1.5L bottles produced for the UK market now contain 50% recycled content
• Innocent have achieved a minimum of 30% recycled content in their bottles, with their smoothie bottles now containing 50%
• Ecover and Highland Spring Group have launched PET bottles with 100% recycled content
This is just the tip of the iceberg, with the new report also capturing pledges Pact members have made for action against the targets in the near future. Many members are looking at refillable alternatives for their plastic packaging – particularly for cleaning products – so that the primary packaging is reusable. Further efforts to help citizens recycle more and recycle better also feature.
Removing unrecyclable plastics will be a key focus for members over the coming year. While the Pact targets run until 2025, WRAP is challenging members to act urgently. As far as possible, by the end of this year, they should remove polystyrene and PVC from food packaging, and by the end of 2020, they should be eradicated from non-food products. These plastics are not recycled, and in the case of PVC, it also contaminates plastic recycling. By the end of 2019 members are being requested to only use plastic that can be sorted effectively in the recycling process, such as adopting ‘detectable black’ pigments.