Some of Britain’s biggest supermarket and retailers have vowed to cut back on plastic waste
Supermarkets and food and drink giants will today vow to kill off throwaway plastic.
In a world first, 42 household names have set a deadline of 2025 to eliminate packaging that cannot be reused.
Black ready-meal trays, crisp packets, pizza bases and food pouches are all covered by the ‘UK Plastics Pact’. It represents another stunning victory for the Daily Mail’s ten-year campaign against the tide of plastic waste polluting our streets, fields, seas and oceans.
They are joined by food and drink giants including Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Nestle, Unilever and Danone. Michael Gove backed the initiative last night. ‘Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses and the public work together,’ said the Environment Secretary at the launch of the pact in London.
‘Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place. I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.’
The initiative will not see plastic packaging completely removed from shelves. Plastic packs and bottles will be exempt if they can be reused, recycled or composted.
Some supermarkets are going even further. Morrisons will today announce a trial in some stores on removing plastic packaging from fruit and vegetables.
It will also allow customers to bring their own containers for products bought from butcher and fishmonger counters.
Iceland, which has led the attack on plastic waste, is also promising radical action.
Richard Walker, the supermarket chain’s boss, said: ‘We have taken the decision not to participate directly 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.
‘Given the scale of our ambition, we feel that is right to focus all Iceland’s resources on delivering this.’ The pact is supported by industry groups, by Keep Britain Tidy and by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which campaigns to protect the oceans.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, pictured, has backed the plan and said government and business had to work together to wipe out plastic waste
Dame Ellen MacArthur, pictured, said: ‘‘This bold new pact will bring together businesses, policymakers and the public to create a circular economy for plastics that tackles the causes of plastic waste and pollution, not just the symptoms’
Dame Ellen, who has set multiple sailing records, said: ‘This bold new pact will bring together businesses, policymakers and the public to create a circular economy for plastics that tackles the causes of plastic waste and pollution, not just the symptoms. Focusing on innovation, better packaging design and end-of-use systems will not only generate long-term benefits for the environment, but is also a huge economic opportunity.
‘We encourage others around the world to help drive this momentum towards global solutions to what is a global problem.’
Louise Edge of Greenpeace welcomed the initiative but insisted even more work was needed. ‘Action from the companies producing and selling much of the single-use plastic in circulation is absolutely vital if we’re to stem the flow of rubbish into our oceans,’ she said. ‘And for this effort to succeed it is crucial companies go beyond just making products recyclable – they need to turn the tap off at the source. This means cutting the overall amount of throwaway plastic being produced.’
The Marine Conservation Society said it was important that voluntary measures from firms did not become a substitute for legislative action.
Earlier this month Theresa May signalled a total ban on plastic cotton buds, straws and drink stirrers to help protect the oceans. And Mr Gove is to bring in a deposit and return scheme on drinks bottles and cans.
Marcus Gover, of waste advisory group Wrap, said: ‘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.
‘This requires a wholescale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act. That is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique. It unites everybody, business and organisation with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.’
The Mail’s campaign started with a drive to cut down on supermarket carrier bags – achieving success with the introduction of the 5p levy. The focus switched to microbeads, throwaway coffee cups, plastic bottles, straws and pointless packaging. This newspaper has also launched the Great Plastic Pick Up campaign, which has seen more than 8,000 readers sign up for almost 400 community litter clearing events next month.
- £1MILLION raised from the 5p charge on plastic bags is to be used to research and combat ocean and beach pollution. The money, which goes to two charities, was raised from shoppers at Waitrose over the past year.
A host of major supermarkets have announced plans to eliminate single-use plastic