UK Plastics Pact launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WRAP


Today, with the support of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, WRAP launches The UK Plastics Pact. This unique platform brings together businesses, governments, innovators, NGOs, and citizens on a national level to rally behind ambitious targets and build a plastics system that works.

The current plastics crisis is a global problem that affects us all. This is why a global solution is needed, with unprecedented collaboration and innovation. To help drive the momentum towards that solution WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), together with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is launching The UK Plastics Pact. It will be supported by DEFRA (Department for Food and Rural Affairs) and delivered by WRAP.

The UK Plastics Pact is part of an international initiative, the Plastics Pact, created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This unique initiative aims to drive collaboration within countries and regions to achieve the shared vision of a circular economy for plastics, where plastics never end up as waste, as set out in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report, “A New Plastics Economy - Rethinking the Future of Plastics” (2016).

The UK Plastics Pact aims to achieve the overall goal of zero plastic packaging leaked into the environment by meeting the following targets by 2025:

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation, or alternative (reuse) delivery models

  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable

  • 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted

  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging

Each pact will be run by a national implementation organisation and bring together local businesses, policy-makers, NGOs, and other stakeholders, to set ambitious, time-bound targets. The pacts will help to eliminate unnecessary and problematic single-use plastic packaging, and redesign all plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. Each pact will also increase the collection and recycling of plastic packaging, as well as the recycled content used in plastic packaging.

A second Plastics Pact is being developed in Chile. Other countries are set to follow. The organisations involved in each pact will come together to form a Plastics Pact network that will share knowledge and best practices, further accelerating the transition towards a New Plastics Economy where plastics never become waste.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “We are delighted to launch this pioneering national implementation initiative with WRAP in the UK. This bold new pact will bring together businesses, policymakers, and the public to create a circular economy for plastics that tackles the causes of plastics waste and pollution, not just the symptoms. Focussing on innovation, better packaging design, and end-of-use systems will not only generate long-term benefits for the environment, but is also a huge economic opportunity. We encourage others around the world to help drive this momentum towards finding global solutions to what is a global problem.”

WRAP CEO, Marcus Gover, said: “Together, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage plastic waste wreaks on our planet. This requires a wholescale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act. That is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique. It unites every body, business and organisation with a will to act on plastic pollution. We will never have a better time to act, and together we can.”

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place. I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.”

Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Hannah Blythyn, said: “We welcome businesses taking a proactive approach to tackling plastic pollution, which is a step towards achieving our target of Wales becoming a zero-waste nation by 2050. In Wales, we will shortly be publishing our research into extending producer responsibility for food and drink packaging waste, while exploring options such as a UK-wide deposit return scheme.”

Zero Waste Scotland, Chief Executive, Iain Gulland, said: “We welcome the strong commitment shown by these leading businesses and representative bodies to tackle the issues associated with single-use plastics. Scotland is already leading the way with action on cotton buds, straws, microbeads and plastic packaging, including being the first part of the UK to commit to a deposit return scheme, which we are currently designing for the Scottish Government. We look forward to working with those signed up to the Plastic Pact to achieve our ambitions for cleaner seas, streets and countryside and for a more circular economy.”