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  • Morag Nixon

The UK Plastics Pact

Hi, I’m Morag, I am also part of the plastics theme on the sustainable CDT PhD at Nottingham. As part of the blog plastic series I’d like to discuss responsibility and where it lies in respect to plastic waste. There is a range of people responsible and potentially could be argued by different amounts as well. Starting from the beginning…

At each step of this plastic waste journey there is a level of responsibility. Consumers are starting to realise the effect their mismanaged plastic waste has on the environment and are trying to make positive changes to reduce this. However, there is also a shift starting to happen at a higher level within the companies who use plastic. These companies are trying to take more accountability and have begun seeking advice on what they can do to help the plastic waste problem. Introducing the UK Plastics Pact!


The UK Plastics Pact was started in 2018, it is between governments, businesses, local authorities, NGOs and citizens and aims to transform the UK’s plastics system. Together the 68 members are responsible for 80% of plastic packaging sold in the UK supermarkets and 50% of all packaging placed on the market. Therefore, they have the potential to have significant impact and a chance of achieving their goals. They have 4 key 2025 targets:

  1. Eliminate single-use packaging and take actions to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging items.

  2. 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.

  3. 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted.

  4. 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

All of these targets are focused on plastic packaging, but this is an ideal initial target for the pact based off its members and the large plastic packaging market; 40% of plastic is used in packaging. Therefore, it is not surprising that this market also generates a lot of plastic waste, the UK generates 2.4 million tonnes per year from plastic packaging and of this around 1.7 million is from households. The table below details how some of the members are working towards the 2025 targets.

The mid-review date for the 2025 target is in 2022 when a progress report will be issued. However, in the meantime the 2018/19 progress report offers details on current and proposed actions: https://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Member-progress-report-Dec-2019_1.pdf


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