According to WRAP’s annual report, major UK supermarkets and food manufacturers have helped reduce the amount of packaging on supermarket shelves by a tenth between 2018 and 2020.

The UK Plastics Pact’s third annual report shows ‘good collective progress’ against the UK Plastics Pact’s four environmental targets year on year, while further action is required to scale the recycling of plastic bags and wrapping.

UK Plastic Pact members have also reduced single-use plastic items by 46% and have doubled their recycled content in two years, saving 140,000 tonnes of CO2e.

WRAP claims that members of the Pact account for two-thirds of all consumer packaging in the UK. The initiative involves 96 members, which include 56 manufacturers and 15 retailers. The Pact is also backed by Daera, Defra, the Scottish government and the Welsh government.

The statistics recorded by the report include:

  • Sainsbury’s has replaced polystyrene in its own brand 2L ice cream tubs, meaning that 215 tonnes of plastic is now recyclable
  • Premier Foods has moved Mr Kipling, Cadbury and Plantastics flat pack slices from polystyrene to PET, meaning 250 tonnes of plastic is now recyclable. The trays also now contain at least 50% recycled plastic
  • Waitrose & Partners has reduced the amount of plastic in its own brand Easter eggs by nearly half (44%), with 18% less card too
  • After eight years and 45 prototypes, Heinz will be introducing a new cap for tomato ketchup that sees the removal of silicone valves which are a contaminant to the recycling system. The new caps will be rolled out in 2022 to the squeezy ketchup bottles
  • Co-op and Dunbia have worked together with suppliers to roll out mono-material PET trays across red meat packs. Previously the packs contained a layer of different plastic (PE) which impeded the trays from being recycled effectively. The innovation enables Dunbia group, suppliers to many UK supermarkets, to transition all trays to the mono-material.

“A real sea change”

Jo Churchill, Resources and Waste Minister at Defra, said: “The UK Plastics Pact is creating a real sea change and shows how businesses are rising to the challenge of cutting their use of plastic and increasing recycling. But there is more we must do – and that is why we are consulting on banning a range of further single-use plastics and, through our exciting new Environment Act, we will make manufacturers more responsible for their packaging. With strong action from government and businesses, we can drastically reduce waste, make better use of our resources and protect our natural environment.”