locally is in. This week, Malaysia followed China in taking a tougher stance on plastic
waste imports – with mislabelled waste sent back to its country of origin. It’s
time to think how the UK can create a better system for handling plastic waste.
Enter the UK Plastics Pact. The Pact, signed by businesses
representing 85% of plastic sold through UK supermarkets, sets four targets. By
2025, signatories will eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging;
make 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable; ensure 70% is actually recycled
or composted; and achieve 30% average recycled content across all plastic
Last week, WRAP
released the first annual report sharing progress against the Pact.
I took a look: What’s going well? What could go better?
innovative examples of progress are shared throughout the report. Black plastic
– a challenge to recycle – is unsurprisingly a frequent focus. While many
companies are working to curb its usage, Unilever is collaborating with waste
management companies to introduce a new black pigment that can be detected by
infra-red scanners and therefore recycled. Good news for TREssemé shampoo fans!
PepsiCo’s recycling trail of Walker’s Crisps packaging in partnership with TerraCycle is
another interesting step forward – and one that I’m sure the many
#PacketInWalkers consumers who posted back crisp packets last year will be intrigued to
But a real strength of the report is its tabular company-by-company format. Transparently communicating the achievements and planned actions of individual signatories holds each accountable. It allows those who perform well to be recognized and rewarded. And the promise that WRAP will report on progress twice a year should maintain momentum towards the Pact’s goals.
A few future
style does – in a way – provide an overview of progress towards the Pact. But
you have to work for it. There’s no simple summary tracking progress towards delivering
the aims of the Pact’s Roadmap – which identifies key outcomes for April 2019
and a potential path to 2025. Indeed, the report is limited in scope, covering
only a “selection of members.”
helped by the different ways that companies report progress. Some, such as Aldi, report tonnes of plastic
reduced by actions. Others leave us guessing. Greater consistency in reporting
– in terms of the outcomes of actions rather than just the fact the activity
was completed – would aid understanding.
It is year
one. It’s clear companies are taking action. But it’s not easy to understand
what exactly this action means. There’s an exciting story to tell here – and I’m
eager to see if the next WRAP report makes it more accessible.