The UK Plastics Pact
It’s no secret that sustainability is important to us, and the heart of what drives TrakRap as a company. This means that, unlike a large number of manufacturing companies, we are incredibly excited by the introduction of the UK Plastics Pact.
So, what exactly is the pact?
The UK Plastics Pact is a world-first agreement between governments, businesses, local authorities, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and citizens which aims to transform the UK’s plastics system. Its members currently account for a staggering ⅔ of all consumer plastic packaging produced in the UK, making it a key player in the move towards a more sustainable consumer packaging model.
By 2025, the aim is to transform the UK’s plastic packaging sector by hitting a series of targets: 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable; 70% of plastic packaging will be effectively recycled or composted; single-use packaging will be eliminated through redesign, innovation and reuse; and all plastic packaging will feature an average of 30% recycled content.
There is no question that the UK Plastics Pact represents a significant step in the right direction towards ensuring a more sustainable future. It cuts through the noise and gets straight to the heart of the problem and, crucially, acknowledges plastics for what they are – incredibly versatile and important resources that give huge benefits in food safety and reducing food waste . It is vital that, in an advanced economy such as ours, we turn the proliferation of plastics to our advantage by using the technology available to us to create a circular economy for plastics and the Pact seeks to do exactly that.
Secondary Packaging and Consumers
At this stage, discussions about the Pact in the media have mostly centred around primary packaging, and there is a suggestion that consumers and supermarkets may be focussing their intentions in the wrong area by ignoring secondary or transit packaging. However, it is logical for consumers to focus on primary packaging, as that is what they come into contact with, unlike secondary packaging which remains in supermarkets, and there is a lot more of it! The critical issue here is: how can we ensure consumers are getting their recyclable plastic primary packaging out of their rubbish bins and into their recycling?
First, we need to simplify the types of plastics which are being used. Some plastics can be recycled and some can’t and we need to take the responsibility for differentiating between these out of the consumers hands by banning non recyclable plastics altogether. Next, we need to work on changing attitudes toward recycling and this is something for which everyone is responsible. The once prevalent attitude of ‘it all ends up in the same place anyway’ is, thankfully, now dying out and it is common knowledge that recycling helps the environment, but we still need everybody to put their money where their mouth is and ensure they are putting the correct items in the correct recycling bins.
Finally, we need to put new systems in place that guarantee that what is being placed in recycling bins is actually being recycled. Incidents of huge amounts of plastic being sent to landfill instead of being recycled must be stamped out as a matter of urgency because, as well as being extremely bad news for the environment, they also serve to undermine the efforts being made in the minds of the general public.
Of course, manufacturers have a role to play in all of this too, which is why not only advocate for more sustainable packaging but also offer systems and solutions for companies to take advantage of.