Forty companies have signed a pledge to reduce plastic pollution in Britain over the next seven years, in collaboration with the UK government, trade organizations, and environmental advocates. The UK Plastics Pact includes a number of specific promises, including a 2025 goal of making all plastic products ready for reuse, recycling, or composting.
The pact, which includes companies that together account for 80 percent of plastic packaging found in UK supermarkets, has been called a “once-in-a lifetime opportunity” to address plastic pollution and get the most out of used plastic products, according to BBC News.
Signatories of the pledge include Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Marks & Spencer, Unilever, and Asda. The campaign was spearheaded by the sustainability advocacy group WRAP. According to Marcus Glover, WRAP’s chief executive:
“This requires a whole scale 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 everybody, business and organization with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.”
In addition to the recyclability commitment, the signatories of the pact also agreed to use product design strategies that eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging, to ensure 70 percent of packaging materials are ultimately recycled or composted, and to produce nearly a third of all plastic packaging using recycled materials.
The pact also enjoyed the support of the Ellen MacArthur foundation. MacArthur broke a record for non-stop circumnavigation of the globe by sailboat in 2005, and has since advocated for the reuse of plastic goods to mitigate plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. MacArthur described the pact as “a circular economy for plastics that tackles the causes of plastics waste and pollution, not just the symptoms.”
“Focusing 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.”
Plastic use has increased 20-fold in the past 50 years, and experts say may double again in the next 20.
The European Union hopes to see single-use plastic products banned in all member states by 2030. Coca Cola noted that even though this pact is will affect only the UK, the company is pushing toward similar goals in other markets.
Currently, only 14 percent of the world’s plastic products are recycled.