Supermarkets

Plastic packaging in supermarkets falls by 10%

The 10% reduction across supermarkets reportedly equates to a CO2e reduction of 335,000t, or the equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road since the pact began

Plastic packaging across UK supermarkets has fallen by 10% since 2018, while “problematic and unnecessary” single-use plastic items used by retailers and manufacturers have been slashed by 46% in the same period. 

The findings come from UK Plastics Pact’s third annual report, which is published by global NGO WRAP. 

The 10% reduction across supermarkets reportedly equates to a CO2e reduction of 335,000t, or the equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road since the pact began.

In addition, the amount of recycled content in packaging has doubled to 18% since 2018.

The report found that there was “good collective progress” against the UK Plastics Pact’s four environmental targets, though said there was further action required to scale the recycling of plastic bags and wrapping.

Nonetheless, it highlighted a “number” of key developments and innovations during the last twelve months, such as recycling plastic bags and wrapping through increased front of store collections.

WRAP, which published the industry best practice guidance on front of store collections this year, is now urging more supermarkets to implement collections to help increase the number of people using collection points ahead of future kerbside collections. 

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, said: “The UK Plastics Pact arose at a time of great public concern about plastic pollution and has been a constant and practical programme for collective change to reset our relationship with plastics. Comparing 2020 against 2018, it has shown strong progress against its environmental targets during a period of unmitigated societal upheaval.

“I believe this work should inspire us when we think about the enormous efforts needed to tackle climate change, and how innovation and experimentation can drive forward action through strong public-private partnerships.”

He added: “The results of real-life reuse and refill trials carried out under the Pact are extremely exciting for how we could shop packaging-free in the future. 

“We see a 50% growth in plastics reprocessing in the UK, which is a massive improvement and Recycle Week marked a record high in terms of the numbers of people recycling – helping complete the cycle of plastics to keep them in the economy and out of the environment. But as COP26 made clear, we have a long way to go and little time to make big changes.”

Jo Churchill, Resources and Waste minister, said: “The UK Plastics Pact is creating a real sea change and shows how businesses are rising to the challenge of cutting their use of plastic and increasing recycling. 

“But there is more we must do – and that is why we are consulting on banning a range of further single-use plastics and, through our exciting new Environment Act, we will make manufacturers more responsible for their packaging. With strong action from government and businesses, we can drastically reduce waste, make better use of our resources and protect our natural environment.”

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