Six months on: The UK Plastics Pact delivering action

Dr Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP

I was inspired and excited to see so much content, commitment and collaboration at the Summit we held to mark the first six months of The UK Plastics Pact on October 11th.

We heard about the fantastic progress towards meeting the ambitious Pact  targets which has been already made members and supporters in just six short months. Progress which demonstrates a real commitment to act, and to act in a joined-up, cohesive way.

There was strong recognition that individual initiatives should not be piecemeal, but aligned as part of a collective plan for change right across the system. One which transforms the plastics system in the UK and keeps it in the economy and out of the environment.

At the launch of the Pact six months ago, I said I believed we held the solution in our hands. I also said we didn’t yet have all the answers. I highlighted research and innovation a vital key to unlock some of that puzzle.

So I was delighted to announce at the Summit a new £1.4 million UK Circular Plastics Flagship Projects Competition to applicants who demonstrate creative business ideas to reduce the environmental impacts of plastic, and which bring greater circularity in the use of plastic. We are really looking forward to giving those innovative minds the opportunity to share their ideas.

I also said we need a clear picture of what ‘good’ looks like by 2025 when we achieve our targets. 

At WRAP, my colleagues have also been working incredibly hard over the summer to help build that picture and to lay the foundations upon which The UK Plastics Pact can build – helping to turn ambition into action, which is what we do so well. As one speaker put it – “harnessing the emotion into something tangible we can get our arms around”.

The papers we published at the Summit offer important research and guidance to address key issues around plastic packaging, and with the collecting and processing of post-consumer plastics. This will help inform decisions and support businesses to achieve the targets, and it is really important work. The hard yards if you like. There will be more to come in the pipeline.

I was particularly impressed to hear the commitment to genuine collaboration and a willingness to share knowledge and evidence which is aligned to achieving the Pact’s targets.

This is where the Roadmap to 2025, which we shared at the Summit, will play such an important part – keeping partners on track towards a single goal and, importantly, as was pointed out by more than one speaker – holding everyone accountable. We are aiming to make it public later this year.

We know the scale of the task to achieve our goal in just seven short years. 

We know that for industry this comes against other competing pressures and a backdrop economic uncertainty. 

We’ve come an incredibly long way in a short space of time. But there is still a long way to go.

But the energy and commitment at the Summit reinforced to me that we are on that journey together. The UK Plastics Pact has harnessed the unprecedented alignment of political, business and public will to tackle plastic pollution and converted it into action in a way which is truly unique. The UK is demonstrating global leadership on a global issue and the world is watching and waiting to follow.

The rich and frank discussion at the Summit highlighted the complexity and scale of the challenge ahead, but it reinforced my confidence that we have a solution and that we can achieve this by working together. We’ve moved from words to action. Together We Are tackling plastic pollution for us, the planet, and for future generations.