Last year we talked about David Attenborough’s gripping documentary Blue Planet II, which brought to the fore the devastating effects of our plastic consumption. With ‘single-use’ becoming word of the year in 2018, over the past few years consumers, brands and businesses are growing increasingly concerned about the damage we are causing to the environment.
Following on from Attenborough’s discoveries, earlier this year Theresa May pledged to ‘ban single-use plastics by 2042‘. With estimations claiming that as of 2015, ‘6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated’ and only 9% of it was recycled. Evidently, the plastic problem has been an issue for decades, but addressing the issue has proved difficult.
The war on plastics is not just about consumers prompting change through demand, but it is an opportunity for brands to also drive change. There are many people who will admit that they believe more can be done and want to participate in changing the way we consume, but old habits die hard and people look for convenience. What consumers will be looking for is more eco-friendly options out there that are easily accessible to them and this is where the big brands and companies come in.
So since last year, what exactly have leading companies done to reduce their plastic pollution?
Since April 2018, companies around the world have formed an alliance to put a stop to plastic waste. Brands like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever and Procter & Gamble have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact to reduce single-use plastics. Joining these big brands, our top supermarket chains are now stepping forward with initiatives to cut down on single-use plastics – here’s a few examples of their commitments:
Morrisons have planned to cut back on the use of plastic bags by implementing a price increase from 10p to 15p. Recently they have reported a sales drop of 25% on bag sales.
Up-cycling is a useful way to make utilise unwanted plastics in the world and M&S have come up with ingenious ways to do this. In January this year, M&S have launched a ‘plastic take-back scheme’ which promises to turn non-recyclable plastic into furniture, store fittings and playground equipment.
In addition, Iceland have recently pledged to be plastic free by 2023, opting to look for loose alternatives to plastic packaging.
Also opting for loose alternatives, in March this year, Tesco have launched a trial to remove plastic packaging from a selection of their fruit and vegetable products.
Sainsbury’s tackles the problem by swapping plastic packaging in chilled meals, replacing plastic for sturdy cardboard.
Asda promises to slash their plastic packaging in their own brand products by 10%. They aim to swap over plastic straws and cups in their cafes to paper ones by the end of the year and aim to phase out the use of 5p bags in home deliveries.
The war on plastic will prove to be the biggest challenge for generations to come. It requires action from consumers and businesses alongside government initiatives to make a real impact. Undeniably, the issue is complex and is part of a wider pollution problem, but the recent steps taken by big companies shows progress.
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