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Environment

Over 40 UK Companies Just Signed a Pact to Cut Plastic Pollution

Dozens of companies in the UK signed a pledge today to crackdown on plastic pollution by 2025. 

It’s called the UK Plastics Pact, and it unites 42 government departments, trade associations, retailers, campaign groups, and more, behind four targets to curb plastic waste. 

Combined, those that have signed the pact are responsible for 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold in UK supermarkets, according to the BBC. 

Take action: Call on Governments and Business Leaders to Say No to Single-Use Plastics

“Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses, and the public work together,” said environment secretary Michael Gove in a statement.

“Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place,” he continued. “I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.” 

The pact has been led by not-for-profit campaign group WRAP, which works with governments, businesses, and the public to help create a sustainable world. 

Read more: 16 Times Countries and Cities Have Banned Single-Use Plastics

Every signatory of the pact will meet four targets, which WRAP described as “world-leading.” These are: 

  • Make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable. 
  • Eliminate difficult or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation, or alternative delivery models. 
  • Make sure 70% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted. 
  • 30% of all plastic packaging to include recycled material. 

According to WRAP’s chief executive Marcus Gover, it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to change our relationship with plastic.

“This requires a whole scale transformation of then plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act,” Gover said.

Read more: Scientists Found More Microplastics in Arctic Ice Than Ever Before

“This is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique,” he continued. “It unites every body, business, and organisation with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.” 

Supermarkets that have signed include Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, and Tesco. 

Iceland hasn’t signed the pledge, but committed in January to eliminate plastic packaging for all its own-brand products by 2023. It was the first major retailer to make this pledge. 

CEO Richard Walker told the Guardian the supermarket had made the decision not to participate in the pact because “we have already taken a more far-reaching decision to eliminate plastic packaging from our own label range in its entirety by 2023.” 

Read more: This Coffee Chain Is First to Announce a Complete Ban on Disposable Cups

The pact comes as government ministers consider whether companies should take greater financial responsibility for ensuring the waste they put into the market is effectively recycled. 

Currently, supermarkets in the UK pay less towards ensuring their plastic waste is properly collected and disposed of than in any other country in the EU, reported the Guardian. Instead, taxpayers pay 90% of the total cost. 

Other companies that have signed include: Coca-Cola, Pret a Manger, Marks & Spencer, Innocent, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut, Nestle, Danone, and Ocado. You can find the full list here

But some campaign groups believe the pact doesn’t go far enough. As it’s voluntary, there are no legal enforcements in place to ensure companies come through on their pledge, and campaigners have said the government should take more responsibility to ensure promises are delivered. 

Read more: That Massive Ocean Garbage Patch Is About to Be Cleaned Up

Julian Kirby, from Friends of the Earth, said in a statement that the pact must be “accompanied by government measures to ensure that everyone plays their part and these targets are actually met.” 

“Ultimately the only long-term solution is a complete phase-out of all but the most essential uses, covering all plastic-polluting sectors including clothing, cosmetics, and vehicles — as well as packaging,” he added. “Ministers must draw up an action plan to make this a reality.” 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action on improving life on land, and life below water, and creating sustainable cities and communities. You can join us by taking action on these issues here