UK Plastics Pact members to remove eight problematic single-use plastics from the shelf by 2020

Plastic straws
Plastic straws are being banned in England

WRAP has published a list of eight problematic or unnecessary single-use plastics that UK Plastics Pact members are expected to remove from the shelf by the end of 2020.  

These items are accompanied by a second list of 19 plastic items which are to be prioritised for action to fight the issues associated with them by 2025.  


WRAP director Peter Maddox will be speaking at The Recycling Event on 2 July about defining what exactly is recycled content. Book your tickets now:

It is hoped that by doing this, the result will be a reduction in the amount of plastic on the shelves, a reduction in demand for virgin plastic and avoiding up to 1 tonne of CO2 per tonne that is recycled. 

WRAP has also specified its definition of what is “problematic” or “unnecessary” plastics which relies on the following:  

  • Where it is avoidable, or a reusable alternative is available 
  • When it cannot be recycled, or it hampers the recycling process 
  • When it is commonly littered and pollutes the environment. 

Solving these issues will require collaboration and effort from all companies, said WRAP, and will involve various actions such as consideration of re-fills, improved packaging design and improving recycling. 

Ensuring people are encouraged to recycle and are clear on what can be recycled and how to recycle it are also key, said the organisation.  

The eight-core single-use plastics that Pact members will phase-out include: 

  • Disposable plastic cutlery  
  • All polystyrene packaging 
  • Cotton buds with plastic stems 
  • Plastic stirrers 
  • Oxo-biodegradables that break down and create microplastics 
  • Plastics straws 
  • Disposable plastic plates and bowls 
  • PVC packaging. 

WRAP director Peter Maddox said: “We know that more people than ever are concerned about the impact of plastics. The fundamental way industry can support this public desire is by addressing the issues that lead to plastic packaging being problematic. So for every item of packaging we need to consider whether plastic is the right material choice, or indeed if packaging is required at all. 

“In many cases, plastic may be the best material choice from an environmental perspective. In these cases, we need to ensure that the plastic can be and is recycled. The items listed today are priorities for UK Plastics Pact members, and the onus is on those members to implement changes, urgently.” 

In addition to this list, 19 single-use plastic items and materials are to be investigated with UK Pact members creating solutions that address issues relating to how we purchase and use these items through either avoidance, reuse, re-design and/or recycling or composting by 2025.  

Some of the items on this list include plastic film packaging, plastic bags, bottle caps, multi fruit/veg net bags, non-recyclable coloured plastic and plastic coffee pods.  

WRAP will be developing individual action plans with UK Pact members to ensure that progress is made on the longer list as quickly as possible, with the list being kept under constant review by WRAP to ensure the target is met by 2025.  

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