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Eradication of Avoidable Plastics in the UK

February 1st, 2018

At the beginning of 2018, the UK Government announced plans to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042; the term avoidable was subsequently defined as what is technically, environmentally and economically practicable.

The aforementioned plans were released in a UK Government publication, ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’:

The publication specifies particular areas of concentration for the next 25 years, including improving the cleanliness of seas / oceans, reducing waste, and working with land more sustainably. Specifically, the plan attempts to address all aspects of the plastics lifecycle, including:

  • Improving the quality of plastics so that they are easier to recycle.
  • The possible creation of plastic-free areas of Supermarkets and the expansion of the already extremely successful plastic carrier bag fee.
  • Extending producer responsibility provisions to cover plastics which are not currently in-scope of legal requirements.

The plan follows suit with other actions within the UK; for example, what has been referred to as a ‘latte levy’ (i.e. a fee applied to disposable coffee cups) was also proposed at the beginning of 2018. The plan also follows suit with actions elsewhere in Europe:

  • France and Italy offer cheaper recycling fees to parties obligated under Extended Producer Responsibility provisions for particular forms of packaging which are easy to recycle. France also applies additional fees for packaging which is particularly difficult to recycle.
  • The structure of national schemes which allow obligated parties to meet Extended Producer Responsibility requirements for packaging in Germany, by law, must be structured in a way that promotes recycled content and renewable materials.

It appears that the UK Government are now taking a more active stance on tackling plastics to follow in the footsteps of industry. Last year, Unilever announced plans to make all of their plastic packaging fully recyclable by 2030 and The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, campaigner for the wider adoption of circular economy models, released a new global action plan to recycle and re-use 70% of the worlds plastic packaging.

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UK Gov 25 Year Plastic Pledge. Source: gov.uk

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