WRAP, the Waste and Resources Action Programme charity, has published its first annual report covering the UK Plastics Pact.
The pact is described as a ‘unique, collaborative initiative that will create a circular economy for plastics’. It brings together businesses from across the value chain, the UK government and NGOs to promote ways to reduce plastic waste.
The 2018-’19 report covers members’ progress in achieving goals outlined across four primary target areas: Elimination of unnecessary single-use plastics; making 100% of plastic packaging reusable or compostable; achieving a target of 70% plastic packaging being recycled or composted, and; reaching a 30% average content of recycled material.
The collective targets are intended to promote a systemic overhaul of the UK plastics system.
The data shows that members are on target to remove 1.1 billion items of single-use plastic by the end of 2020. This includes straws and cotton buds.
Supermarkets have already removed 3,400 tonnes of unnecessary plastic packaging and 137.5m plastic stickers from fresh produce.
The material notes that supermarkets have removed ‘more than 19,000 tonnes of non-recyclable black plastic’, equivalent to 1.5bn ready meal trays.
The black trays (which are largely recyclable, but in most cases not automatically sortable at MRFs), have been replaced with coloured or clear alternatives.
The report notes that a ‘key challenge’ will be developing recycling systems for plastic films, which are said to account for 25% of consumer packaging, but only 4% of which is recycled.
Companies signed up to the pact are reported to be more than halfway towards making all their packaging recyclable – the UK is also described as being more than halfway to recycling 70% of all plastic packaging.
Members are also said to be about one-third of the way to reaching an average of 30% recycled content in plastic packaging.
That average of 10% across pact members’ plastic packaging is described as saving more than 500,000 barrels, or 90,000 tonnes of oil.
A key challenge to this goal is ensuing that there is sufficient recyclate to support demand. The switch from coloured to clear packaging can help with this.
Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, said: “The way that we make, use and dispose of plastic is transforming, and I am proud of the progress that the pact has made so far. But there is no magic wand – we’re unpicking a highly complex and well-established system and making sure that we don’t simply displace the environmental cost elsewhere.”
He continued: “Our pact members have shown that they’re committed to this challenge and our new report demonstrates the breadth of action so far on tackling plastic waste. These aren’t token gestures – changes like these require a huge amount of investment and innovation. It shows that our members are working collaboratively towards the same goal.”
The full report is available by clicking here.