UK makes progress in fight against plastics, cuts down single-use plastic by 47%

UK – The United Kingdom is making progress in combating plastic waste, the UK Plastics Pact’s third annual report has revealed 

According to the report, problematic single-use plastic items were reduced by 46% while the amount of plastic packaging in supermarkets fell by 10% from 2018-2020. 

The figures are a testament to the good collective progress against the UK Plastics Pact’s environmental targets that has so far been made by all stakeholders.  

Targets of the Uk Plastics Pact include eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging and making 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable. 

Manufacturers are also required to ensure 70% of plastic packaging is recycled or composted in addition to a 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.  

“The UK Plastics Pact arose at a time of great public concern about plastic pollution and has been a constant and practical programme for collective change to reset our relationship with plastics,” said WRAP chief executive officer Marcus Gover.  

“Comparing 2020 against 2018, it has shown strong progress against its environmental targets during a period of unmitigated societal upheaval.” 

Comparing data for members reporting annually, the review equates the 10% drop in plastic packaging on supermarket shelves to a reduction in CO emissions of 335,000t – equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road since the Pact began.  

It also highlighted the doubling of the amount of recycled content in packaging to 18% since 2018, resulting in more than one million barrels of virgin oil being saved through recycled content use.  

The report highlights those innovations in recycling plastic bags and wrapping through increased front-of store collections are beginning to enable the scaling up of the collection and recycling of these challenging materials.  

WRAP is urging more supermarkets to implement collections to increase the number of people using collection points and called for further investment from industry for UK recycling infrastructure. 

“We see a 50% growth in plastics reprocessing in the UK, which is a massive improvement and Recycle Week marked a record high in terms of the numbers of people recycling – helping complete the cycle of plastics to keep them in the economy and out of the environment,” Gover added.  

Jo Churchill, UK resources and waste minister, said:“The UK Plastics Pact is creating a real sea change and shows how businesses are rising to the challenge of cutting their use of plastic and increasing recycling.  

But there is more we must do – and that is why we are consulting on banning a range of further single-use plastics and through our exciting new Environment Act, we will make manufacturers more responsible for their packaging.” 

Earlier, Saputo Dairy UK (SDUK) partnered with flexible packaging supplier Wipak UK Ltd in a project which saw 33% of virgin plastic replaced with post-consumer recycled (PCR) material across a range of Saputo’s block cheese packaging. 

The PCR packs have been gradually introduced in Marks & Spencer stores and will be on sale for a limited time due to the availability of the PCR resin. 

Saputo expects to introduce PCR into a wider range of our products in the future as technology advances and the quantity of material available to them increases. 

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