The big four supermarkets plus many other giants of the food and drinks industry have signed up to the “UK Plastics Pact”.
The agreement, organised by Government-backed waste charity Wrap, is an initiative to eradicate unnecessary single-use plastics by 2025.
The UK Plastics Pact has launched today! It’s a world-first initiative designed to tackle #plasticpollution and #ChangePlasticsForGood - bringing together those who produce, retail, recycle or use plastic in any way #UKPlasticsPact pic.twitter.com/CMRjYUiaAC— Recycle Now (@recycle_now) April 26, 2018
Examples of unnecessary single-use plastics include plastic ketchup bottles, yoghurt pots, black plastic trays used for ready-to-heat meals, those annoying plastic bases found in pizza cartons, food pouches, cotton buds, plastic straws, plastic bags used on loose fruit & veg and crisp packets.
In excess of 40 firms have pledged that all the plastic packaging they use will be reusable, recyclable or compostable within seven years, while two thirds will be recycled or composted, up from less than half today.
The initiative is likely to be a boon for the likes of Symphony Environmental Technologies plc (LON:SYM) and its oxo-biodegradable plastic technology and could see a return to the widespread use of glass as a container material.
READ Symphony Environmental's deputy chairman hopes UK government will make biodegradable plastic compulsory
Coffee addicts have already got used to the idea of taking in their own mugs to receive a small discount on their massively overpriced shot of java and we could now see customers taking their own containers along to the fresh fish and meat counters of supermarkets to be used in lieu of black plastic trays.
The plan is to phase out the use of black plastic trays used to package fresh fish and meat by the end of next year; the trays are not recycled because the colour of them means they cannot be identified by machines used to pick out recyclable plastic.
As well as food sellers Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Lidl, Pret, Waitrose and Aldi, the likes of Britvic, Bird’s Eye, Coca-Cola, Cranswick, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever from the food & drinks production sector have signed up to the agreement.
Iceland, the frozen food specialist, was ahead of the game in this respect when it announced in January it would eliminate plastic packaging from all of its own-brand products.
“Together, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage plastic waste wreaks on our planet," said Marcus Gover, the chief executive officer of WRAP.
The #UKPlasticsPact is a trailblazing, collaborative initiative aiming to transform the UK plastics packaging sector and create a #NewPlasticsEconomy @NewPlasticsEcon. Learn more: https://t.co/VYfTSNlRAH #ChangePlasticsForGood pic.twitter.com/nP93WmC62K— WRAP (@WRAP_UK) April 26, 2018
WRAP said the pact would generate a fundamental change in the way the UK designs, produces, uses, re-uses, disposes of and reprocesses plastic.
The charity noted that roughly 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK.