As negotiations resume around the structure and focus of a Global Treaty to end plastic pollution (including in the marine environment), international climate action NGO WRAP has sent a delegation to Nairobi armed with a five-year evaluation of impacts under the UK Plastics Pact.
The report shows that strong progress has been made by UK businesses in tackling plastic waste under The UK Plastics Pact ahead of government policies, however, regulation is critical to hitting all the targets and this will not happen in time for the 2025 deadline. The lack of widespread collection, sorting and recycling of plastic bags and wrapping remains the key issue, which requires extended producer responsibility (EPR), mandatory collection and reform to the plastics packaging tax to enable output from non-mechanical recycling to ‘count’ as recyclate. Public/private agreements, such as The UK Plastics Pact enables industry to get ahead of regulation and take the urgent action that the planet needs, but regulation will also be required for a successful Global Treaty.
Growing from 40 members at its launch in 2018 to nearly 200 by 2022, The UK Plastics Pact was the first of a now international network of 14 national and regional Pacts operating in every continent, together with national partners and WRAP.
In the UK, through five years of work with business and other stakeholders, transformation has occurred to the UK’s relationship with plastics. In that short time, nearly all (99%) of items identified as problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic have been eliminated from sale by Pact members and total household plastic packaging has fallen by 8% by weight. Recycled content has tripled and contributed to a 10.5% carbon reduction in the plastics footprint. More than 70% of household plastic packaging can now be recycled when placed in the recycling, with recycling rates for plastics estimated at 55% in 2022. Furthermore, the amount of plastic recycled on home soil rather than shipped overseas has increased from 37% in 2018 to 54% in 2022. However, many stubborn problems remain, needing Government regulation.
Harriet Lamb, CEO, WRAP “We are proud to be at the forefront of driving global change on plastic pollution. Public-private partnerships like The UK Plastics Pact show just what’s achievable through collaboration. We believe passionately that these models deliver big changes – fast. It also shows the key role regulation must also play. The challenge ahead is huge, but so too are the opportunities to benefit from a circular economy for plastics and improve the situation for people affected by plastic waste around the world. The network of Plastics Pacts around the world are blueprints which can be replicated and scaled to tackle plastics pollution.”