The recent media, government and public storm about the damage that plastic waste is causing to our environment has created a collective will to tackle the problem.
It is a complex issue, though. Plastic is inextricably linked with food, and the environmental damage caused by wasting food is monumental. The carbon impact of the edible food we waste in our homes is the same as the carbon emissions from all of the HGVs on the UK’s roads.
So we can’t just think about the plastic packaging, we need to worry about what is inside it too. Any solutions have to ensure we retain the benefits that plastic was designed to achieve in the first place - in preserving food and helping citizens to get the best out what they buy.
Rather than simply demonising plastic, we need a holistic solution that both values this great material and prevents it from polluting the environment.
That is why I am so excited by the new plastics initiative we announced in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF). It will be the first national implementation of EMF’s New Plastics Economy. It is deliberately ambitious, but realistic and achievable, too. It recognises plastics have an important role, but also that we can do more to improve how we use them. We already have support from a number of retailers and brands.
We will initially focus on plastic packaging and will seek to: eliminate unnecessary and problematic single-use packaging; make sure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; significantly increase the collection and recycling of plastic packaging; increase recycled content in plastic packaging; and inspire and enable citizens to play their part in reducing plastic packaging waste and litter.
We need meaningful action from all stakeholders. Including from my colleagues in Wrap. Wrap has had to make changes to be fit for the future and focus on where we can make the biggest impact. We are ready and fit to face the challenges ahead. There has never been a better opportunity to seize the moment and develop a new economy, one in which resources are used sustainably. So let’s not waste it.
Marcus Gover is chief executive of Wrap