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New pact to tackle waste

Food chain companies sign pact to cut plastic packaging

waste management

Plastic waste is a worldwide issue

Supermarkets and other companies in the food sector have signed a pledge to reduce their use of plastic packaging.

A world-first pact, signed by 42 businesses, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose, aims to eliminate unnecessary plastic and keep it out of the oceans.

The UK Plastics Pact, launched today by sustainability body WRAP, is a unique collaboration which brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with UK governments and  quangoes to tackle the plastic waste issue.

Major food, drink and non-food brands, manufacturers and retailers through to plastic reprocessors and packaging suppliers have made their commitment to the Pact.

The signatories are responsible for more than 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets.

Viridor, the UK’s biggest recycling company, is another signatory to the agreement.  It invested £22 million investment in a new Materials Recycling Facility in Bargeddie, North Lanarkshire and is scheduled to be fully operational by December.

By 2025 the Pact members aim to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models.

They want 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted. They also want all plastic packaging to have 30% average recycled content.

Currently, supermarkets in the UK pay less towards collecting and recycling their plastic waste than in any other European country – leaving taxpayers to pick up 90% of the bill.

The UK Plastics Pact is the first of its kind in the world. It 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. It is being led by WRAP, the sustainability experts.

UK Environment Michael Gove will be speaking at the launch event this evening in London, which is being hosted by WRAP.

Mr Gove will be joined by Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and WRAP CEO Marcus Gover, to officially unveil the Pact.

Mr Gove, said: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place.

“I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.”

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 every body, business and organisation with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.”

Ms MacArthur said: “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.”

Iceland has not joined up to the pledge which is focused on recycling. The company announced In January that it plans to eliminate all plastic packaging for its own-brand products within five years.

Iceland boss Richard Walker said he supported the initiative, but said Iceland’s plans were “more far-reaching”.

Morrisons announced on Thursday that it is to trial “plastic-free” fruit and vegetable sections in its stores, while allowing shoppers to bring in their own containers for purchases from its fresh meat and fish counters.

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