One of the things that has become clear in my time working on reducing Asda's plastic use is that no business is able to fully tackle the issue of plastic waste alone – we need the whole industry to confront the problem.
So I'm delighted to announce today that Asda has become a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact, which is led by the sustainability experts WRAP and supported by the global charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The Pact is a really important initiative that will transform the UK’s plastic system. For the first time, it will bring together businesses, governments, local authorities, non-government organisations, the media and society at large so that all stakeholders involved in making, using, collecting, sorting, reusing and recycling plastics are united behind one vision and one set of ambitious targets.
The targets are that, by 2025, the industry will:
- Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging
- Ensure that 100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable
- Recycle or compost 70% of plastic packaging
- Increase the average recycled content across plastic packaging to 30%.
At Asda we already have our own commitments to use less and recycle more plastic. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the plans we've got to remove single-use plastics like straws, coffee cups, plastic cutlery and carrier bags, reduce and replace plastic packaging in our own-brand products and increase the recyclability of the packaging that remains. Read my blog post here.
As it’s a topic that's been in the news recently, I’m pleased to say that Asda has already moved all of our own-brand cotton bud sticks from plastic to paper. These sticks often find their way into the sea, where they can be mistaken for food by birds and marine animals. You still shouldn’t flush them down the toilet, but Asda products will biodegrade. It’s a small change, but it will make a difference!
We’ll continue to do all that we can to reduce our reliance on plastic. But it’s really important that the whole industry – from retailers to recyclers, producers to consumers – works together and faces this challenge head-on. As our CEO Roger Burnley said when we launched our plans, Asda is committed to promoting a culture of partnership and open cooperation, where we can tackle this problem together regardless of competitive differences.
The UK Plastics Pact is a great first step on this path and I’m really looking forward to working alongside others to create a meaningful change in the way we use plastic. Watch this space!