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Changes to food manufacturing in light of tackling plastic waste

A multitude of businesses within the food and drink manufacturing industry have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact. Launched by WRAP, 42 businesses have already signed up to the initiative across manufacturing, retail and Government agencies.

WRAP is a registered charity that works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy through helping them reduce waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way.

By 2025, the initiative promises to:

  • eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic
  • ensure all remaining plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • ensure at least 70% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted
  • ensure that plastic packaging includes an average of 30% recycled content

Amongst the sign ups are various meat processing companies and soft drinks manufacturer Britvic. Other big names that have joined the UK Plastics Pact include: Birds Eye, Coca-Cola, Danone, Lidl, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons and Nestle. Also committed to the initiative is a range of plastic reprocessors and packaging suppliers.

In the UK, only a third of plastic packaging is recycled meaning two thirds are sent to landfills or left to pollute the environment. Consumers have become increasingly concerned with the impact that plastic waste is having on the world, specifically marine wildlife. BBC’s Blue Planet II was the UK’s most watched TV series in 2017 and had a profound effect on how the public view plastic; highlighting the severe damage it was doing.

The government has since put tackling plastic pollution high up on their agenda; banning the sale of plastic straws and drinks stirrers, banning microbeads in cosmetics and preparing a nationwide deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said of the initiative: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place.”

The scheme will mean food manufacturing and processing companies will have to overhaul their practices.

The EU is also waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

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