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More Than 40 Companies Sign Onto Historic UK Plastics Pact

Business

In a historic move, more than 40 UK companies have signed up to fight plastic pollution as part of the UK Plastics Pact, The Independent reported Wednesday.

The pact, which officially launches today, is a groundbreaking alliance of companies, non-governmental organizations and governments working to transform packaging in the UK by 2025.


"We need to move away from a linear plastics economy, where we take, make and dispose of plastic, and towards a circular system where we keep plastic in the economy and out of the natural environment," the pact website reads.

Specifically, the pact sets out four targets to meet by that date:

  1. Ensure that 100 percent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  2. Eliminate "unnecessary or problematic" single-use plastic packaging.
  3. Make sure that 70 percent of packaging is actually recycled or composted.
  4. Source 30 percent of packaging from recycled plastic.

The pact stands to make a difference, since major brands responsible for 80 percent of the UK's supermarket packaging—among them Coca-Cola, Nestlé and major UK grocery store Sainsbury's—have all signed on.

The pact is an initiative of WRAP, which seeks to work with businesses, governments and communities to use resources more sustainably.

It comes a week after the UK government overall has stepped up to fight plastic pollution in major ways. On April 18, the government announced plans to ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton-swabs containing plastic. On April 15, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged £61.4 million towards a Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance that seeks to rid the oceans of plastic pollution.

Individual UK companies have also taken a stand. For example, Costa, the country's largest coffee chain, pledged April 18 to recycle as many plastic-lined coffee cups as it sells.

But this new pact marks the first time businesses have united around such a goal.

"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," Wrap CEO Marcus Gover told The Independent.

Chile is expected to follow the pact's example later this year, The Independent reported.

However, environmental groups warned that, while the pact is encouraging, it won't be enough if government plans don't provide sufficient mechanisms to ensure companies honor their pledges.

Environmentalists have criticized May's 25-year environment plan, which seeks to eliminate plastic waste by 2042, among other goals, for not outlining any new laws to ensure its benchmarks are attained.

"The Plastic Pact is certainly a move in the right direction, however government measures are also needed to ensure everyone plays their part, and that these targets are actually met," Greenpeace UK senior oceans campaigner Louise Edge told The Independent.

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