More Than 40 Companies Sign Onto Historic UK Plastics Pact
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:
- Ensure that 100 percent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
- Eliminate "unnecessary or problematic" single-use plastic packaging.
- Make sure that 70 percent of packaging is actually recycled or composted.
- 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.
7 Ways to Launch Your Own Anti-Plastics Movement https://t.co/pMyR5nK3Kr @HealTheBay @PlasticPollutes @SaveOurShores— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1515408609.0
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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