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A new plastics economy

Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WRAP unite to transform the UK plastics system and tackle plastic pollution
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
A new plastics economy

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WRAP have announced a new collaboration to help turn the tide on the UK’s growing issue of plastic waste.

Wide-scale change

If all the plastic bottles that are not collected for recycling in the UK each year were placed end to end, they would go around the world 31 times. It’s clear that wide-scale system change is required to make more of the plastic that already exists, keeping it out of the ocean and in the economy.

The UK initiative will bring together businesses, industry, governments, local authorities, NGOs, media and society at large, in a bid to redefine what is possible and create a plastic system that works: a circular economy where plastic is valued and never becomes waste.

The initial focus will be on plastic packaging and will aim to eliminate unnecessary and problematic single-use plastic packaging, and ensure that all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.

It will also work towards a significant increase in the collection and recycling of plastic packaging, and an increase in the recycled content in plastic packaging.

The aim is to drive demand for recycled material and impassion and enable citizens to play their part in reducing plastic packaging waste and litter.

Transforming the system

The initiative is currently being developed by sustainable production and consumption experts WRAP, and is a joint partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Revealed as part of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, it will be the first of a network of national initiatives of the New Plastics Economy in several countries around the world, complementing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global initiative.

‘So far the solutions to plastic waste have been piecemeal. I am pleased to be leading this holistic initiative which will transform the UK’s plastics system. Working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we will bring together every ‘body, business and organisation’ involved in the life-cycle of plastics to make the move from a throw away culture to one where resources are used over and over again.’


A circular economy

For plastic to become valued and never become waste it’s imperative that everybody is involved – from the brands, retailers, food service businesses, packaging suppliers and plastic producers producing it to the local and city authorities collecting it and the waste management and recycling sector sorting it and recycling. This is in addition to government, NGOs, media and the citizens who use plastics. Everyone in the UK can and should engage.

‘Creating a circular economy for plastics amounts to a huge opportunity for the economy as well as providing a longer-term benefit for the environment. Achieving it will require close collaboration and significant commitment from industry, government, and society at large. We are delighted to work with WRAP to help unleash such collaboration here in the UK, as a first national implementation initiative of our global New Plastics Economy initiative.’

Sailor and campaigner

Work is now underway to engage all parties, agree the ambitions and set up the initiative. More details will be shared in the spring, when WRAP, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, will officially launch the initiative.

Click here to add your name to the call for supermarkets to introduce a plastic-free aisle.

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