Key actions businesses should take to help stop plastic packaging polluting the environment have been outlined by WRAP in The UK Plastics Pact Roadmap to 2025, published today.
These actions relate to a series of milestones that are aligned with the targets of The UK Plastics Pact, a collaboration across the entire supply chain to tackle the issue of plastic waste. Targets for 2025 include:
- Eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative delivery models
- 100% of plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
- 70% of plastics packaging to be effectively recycled or composted
- 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.
WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said: “We have sixty-eight of the UK’s largest businesses and organisations committed to the UK Plastics Pact from retail and brands, manufacturers and hospitality, to the plastic supply sector, recycling and resource management.
“I’m very impressed with progress made in the first six months since we launched the Pact. This is proving to be a powerful and motivated group. The Roadmap is a real opportunity for them to forge ahead and make change happen at scale, and in significant ways.
“But these targets cannot be delivered by business action alone. It needs policy intervention as well as consumers to play a part. Factors like Extended Producer Responsibility are going to have a profound influence on momentum, and effecting change in areas such as collections, recycling and reprocessing.”
The outcomes of the Roadmap aim to help reduce confusion as to whether packaging is recyclable, and if the targets are achieved, all plastic packaging will be recyclable or compostable by 2025. Interim targets for increasing recycling and recycled content are also included in the Roadmap.
WRAP said that achieving this will require investment in the UK recycling infrastructure and would be expected to create new jobs, while easing the pressure of plastic waste exportation.
The organisation has set three key milestone dates: April 2019, the end of 2022 and then 2025.
WRAP is also looking to utilise flagship projects to tackle the barriers to improved sorting, recycling and use of recycled content.
So far, the signatories of the Pact have attended four collaborative action groups have been initiated, with a focus on:
- Measurement and reporting – agreeing how to report characteristics of plastic packaging placed on the UK market by members
- Recyclability – defining the criteria and guidance for recyclable, reusable and compostable plastic packaging and agreeing what is “good” in terms of packaging design choices
- Problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic items – developing criteria for ‘problematic & unnecessary’ and finding a solution
- Film & flexibles recycling – front of store collections, kerbside collections, and end markets, with WRAP beginning trials to identify markets for recycled PE/PP film.
The next steps for WRAP will be to continue encouraging UK Plastics Pact members to work together to influence design and selection of packaging materials and products, both own label and branded.
Within the coming months, WRAP will publish further guidance on recyclability, including the recyclability of card-based packaging.
To achieve the Roadmap milestones, members will need to create their own action plan that support each target, with WRAP monitoring the progress and identifying the opportunities for convening collaborative action.
WRAP is leading several work streams ahead of the first milestone, including the development of a strategy for recycling household film and a number of trial projects, as well as developing criteria for unnecessary and problematic plastics, and options to tackle them.