Signposted sustainability: WRAP UK publishes plastics “Roadmap to 2025”

Signposted sustainability: WRAP UK publishes plastics “Roadmap to 2025”

20 Nov 2018 --- WRAP UK has published a roadmap designed to guide businesses towards its 2025 plastic sustainability goals. The roadmap is targeted at businesses, including the 68 members of the UK Plastics Pact, which comprises 80 percent of plastic packaging sold through UK supermarkets, and half of all packaging on the market. The 2025 goals are to firstly eliminate “problematic or unnecessary” single-use packaging through redesign and innovation; secondly, to ensure 100 percent of plastics packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; thirdly, to guarantee that 70 percent of plastics packaging can be effectively recycled or composted; finally, to achieve 30 percent of recycled content across all plastics packaging.

The intention of “The Roadmap to 2025” is to “show what The UK Plastics Pact members and supporters can do to deliver The UK Plastics Pact targets, with key outcomes by the end of year one (April 2019), end-2022 and end-2025.”

“It aims to inspire members and supporters to act, and to galvanize wider action by governments, funders, investors, NGOs and businesses who are not members of The UK Plastics Pact. Achieving the targets will bring huge benefits for the UK, however, it will require tough decisions to be made, significant investment and some compromise. This Roadmap is a living document and will evolve in future versions,” WRAP says.

Click to Enlarge
UK consumer plastic packaging composition
by format and polymer. Source: WRAP

Among the key outcomes, WRAP encourages the development of new commercialized pack formats that are compatible with the collecting, sorting and recycling/composting requirements on UK infrastructure in order to ensure that 100 percent of plastics packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

As part of the roadmap, WRAP reiterates that the specified targets will not be achieved without improved consumer recycling behavior. WRAP has refocused its Recycle Now campaign onto plastic packaging and developed a new campaign toolkit for partners. The focused plastics campaigns have reached more than 17.5 million people in 2018. Engaging citizens on prevention and reuse will form part of a new citizen engagement strategy.

Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP, explains: “We have 68 of the UK’s largest businesses and organizations committed to the UK Plastics Pact from retail and brands, manufacturers and hospitality, to the plastic supply sector, recycling and resource management. I’m very impressed with the progress made in the first six months since we launched the Pact. This is proving to be a powerful and motivated group. The Roadmap is a real opportunity for them to forge ahead and make change happen at scale, and in significant ways.”

“But these targets cannot be delivered by business action alone. It needs policy intervention as well as consumers to play a part. Factors like Extended Producer Responsibility are going to have a profound influence on momentum, and effecting change in areas such as collections, recycling and reprocessing,” he says.

“The Roadmap to 2025” report can be read in full here

Signs of progress
Among the many success stories identified by WRAP, Pizza Hut Restaurants, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Lidl have all stopped selling or handing out plastic straws. Pizza Hut Restaurants’ customers now have to request a straw, resulting in a reported 90 percent reduction in straws being used.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched smart Coca-Cola fountain dispensers in partnership with the University of Reading. The refillable containers contain a micro-chip to interact with the dispenser technology, allowing consumers to purchase soft drinks in reusable bottles. This refill system will test the new technology and consumers’ adoption of refillable types of packaging.

In the battle against notoriously difficult-to-recycle black plastics, the majority of Quorn’s in-store packaging has changed from black to white or clearer alternatives, saving 300 tons of black plastic from entering the value chain each year.

However, a recent Greenpeace report claims that not only are UK supermarkets primary culprits in the plastic pollution problem but that they are also “too slow” to solve the issue at hand. Iceland – widely applauded for its environmental efforts – was the highest performer, yet only scored 5.7 out of 10 in Greenpeace’s rankings.

Going forwards
WRAP will continue to encourage UK Plastics Pact members to work collaboratively to influence design and selection of packaging materials and products; both own label & branded. In the coming months, WRAP is to publish further guidance on recyclability, including the recyclability of card-based packaging. To achieve the roadmap milestones, members will need to create their own action plans that support each target. WRAP will monitor progress and identify the opportunities for sharing best practice and convening collaborative action.

Click to Enlarge
“Collaborative action is at the heart of The UK Plastics Pact,
and mobilisation is in five stages.” Source: WRAP

WRAP is leading several work streams ahead of the first milestone, including the development of a strategy for recycling household film and a number of trial projects, as well as developing criteria for unnecessary and problematic plastics, and options to tackle them.

The sustainability experts continue to work with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to support a global network of Plastics Pacts and have reportedly been approached by several international governments and organizations to replicate the model in other countries.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently announced that more than 290 organizations – comprising 20 percent of all plastic packaging produced globally – had signed a Global Commitment to eradicate plastic waste at source and work collaboratively towards the development of a circular plastics economy. Sander Defruyt, Lead of the New Plastics Economy project, described the challenge of establishing a circular economy for plastics as “a race to the top [that] only businesses and governments can achieve.”

By Joshua Poole

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