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The UK Plastics Pact Annual Report 2019/2020

  • Published on February 13, 2022

On December 8th 2020, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) published its second annual report for The UK Plastics Pact showing that members have made some good progress against targets, including a reduction in the amount of plastic packaging being used, and good progress in plastic recycling at home. 

What is The UK Plastics Pact?

The UK Plastics Pact is the first of a global network of Pacts, enabled by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative. It brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with UK governments and NGOs to tackle the scourge of plastic waste. The UK Plastics Pact is creating a circular economy for plastics, capturing their value by keeping them in the economy and out of the natural environment.

Targets set:

  1. Pact members will eliminate problematic plastics,

  2. Reducing the total amount of packaging on supermarket shelves,

  3. Stimulate innovation and new business models,

  4. Help build a stronger recycling system in the UK. 

Progress & Challenges

With reference to the 4 targets above, the reports main highlights include:

  • Target 1: 400 million items classed as problematic or unnecessary sold by Pact members in the UK in 2019 (a 40% reduction since 2018). Pact members are also on track to eliminate 6 out of 8 of the items classed as problematic or unnecessary by the end of 2020, however there remains challenges as some items have proven tougher to eliminate. These include PVC used in pharmaceutical packaging and polystyrene used to package multipack yogurts.

  • Target 2: 64% of plastic packaging placed on the market by Pact members continues to be recyclable. Although there is positive progress in the areas of packaging redesign, reuse and refill trials and the removal of non-NIR detectable black plastic at scale - to make the inroads needed on this target, urgent action must be taken to make flexible plastic packaging widely recyclable in the UK.

  • Target 3: 50% of the amount of plastic packaging recycled in the UK (Up from 44% in 2018 to 50% in 2019)

  • Target 4: 13% of average recycled content in Pact members plastic packaging (up from 9% in 2018 to 13% in 2019). This equates to 700,000 barrels of virgin oil production, saving 65,997 tonnes of CO2e. The UK Plastics Pact is moving in the right direction but more must be done to achieve the above targets, including the development and investment in new technologies for sorting and processing plastic packaging. 

Further Information

WRAP’s 2019-20 UK Plastic Pact Annual Report highlights the progress made by members against the Pact’s targets. With two years of member data collected, the report shows where we are on our journey to 2025 and where the significant challenges lie. 

Read the full WRAP 2019-20 UK Plastic Pact Annual Report here:

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