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Two thirds of firms involved in Plastic Pledge have made no progress

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Two thirds of firms which pledged last year to get rid of unnecessary single-use plastics have shown no progress, a report reveals.

The ‘UK Plastics Pact’ was signed with great fanfare by 127 companies, including the big supermarkets and food and drinks giants. 

In all, they accounted for 85 per cent of plastic on retailers’ shelves.

The pact was launched as public concern about plastic pollution surged after David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II documentary and campaigns by the Daily Mail.

It set out four targets: To eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging; make 100 per cent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable; ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging was effectively recycled or composted; and ensure there was at least 30 per cent average recycled content in their plastic.



However, a progress report by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) gives details for only 45 of the 127 companies – just one in three of those which joined the pact.

Of those, only one in five reported action on all four targets. Another 16 per cent have failed to act on at least one target.

Pepsico, the makers of Pepsi and Walkers Crisps, was among those showing least progress – with blanks for three of the categories. It made no pledge to introduce 30 per cent recycled content to its bottles and crisp bags although it had invested in a ‘nation-wide crisp packet recycling scheme’.

Supermarket chain Lidl reported no progress on ensuring 70 per cent of its plastic packaging was recycled or composted. Waitrose said it had ‘engaged with our customers on the topic of plastic through social media, signage in shops and publications’. 

And Boots said: ‘Our sushi trays have switched from blue to clear PET.’ It had also attempted to eliminate bubble wrap and plastic tape from its website Louise Edge, from Greenpeace UK, which analysed the report, said: ‘The public is demanding strong action on plastic but it’s clear that most [of these companies] simply aren’t delivering it.’

WRAP said the report ‘represents a small selection of the large number of initiatives under way. It was designed to showcase past and future activities of those 58 business members of The UK Plastics Pact who actually place plastic packaging on the market, and are therefore committed to meeting the Pact’s four targets. Of these, just over three quarters provided information. Some did not wish to share some of their future plans for commercial reasons or were unable to respond because of other business commitments. The report doesn’t cover all of the 127 members and supporters of the Pact. It excludes supporters, for example trade bodies, as well as members who are not directly responsible for producing and using plastic packaging, such as waste management companies or plastic reprocessors.’ 

  • TV chef and waste campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has taken billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to task over plastic pollution. Sir Jim’s company, Ineos, makes plastic pellets in Scotland. But spills from lorries and ships have resulted in billions of the pellets washing up on UK beaches. Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall told the Sunday Times: ‘It’s hard to see how Ineos can crack on with their core business if everybody decides that they actually want less plastic in the world.’

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