Coca-Cola joins the war against plastic: After the Mail's campaigns on microbeads and bags, top firms vow to boost recycling from 14% to 70%
The makers of leading consumer brands yesterday promised a huge increase in the amount of plastic packaging that is recycled or reused.They aim to raise it from the current 14 per cent to 70 per cent by 2025.Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone and Mars are among firms that have agreed to ensure the plastic they use is easily recyclable, reusable or compostable.Radical changes in the design of products such as
chocolate, crisps, soft drinks and laundry detergent are on the cards, moving away from layers of different types of highly coloured plastic.For example, products including yoghurt, pet food or baked beans could be sold in single material clear plastic pouches covered in a paper sleeve.Shoppers could be encouraged to buy products such as laundry liquid in bottles that are taken back to supermarkets for a refill. And deposit schemes could be introduced on plastic bottles to ensure they are returned and recycled.The moves follow concerns that the amount of plastic floating in the world’s seas could outweigh the fish by 2050.Britain has been at the forefront of efforts to tackle plastic waste with the introduction of the 5p charge on bags and proposals to ban the use of plastic microbeads in beauty and other products.Both these measures followed campaigns by the Daily Mail, readers and environment groups.Currently, 40 per cent of plastic packaging is dumped in the ground where it can take hundreds of years to degrade. A third ends up littering streets, parks, the countryside, rivers and seas, harming the environment and wildlife. Only 14 per cent is recycled.Now, global manufacturers and retailers have pledged to increase plastic packaging recycling and re-use to 70 per cent by 2025.
At the same time, efforts will be made to find alternatives to the 30 per cent of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled.
The leaders of 40 businesses around the globe have endorsed the action plan, which is laid out in a report The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing Action.
It was launched by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which was set up by the British round the world sailor, at Davos, Switzerland yesterday.
The report warns: ‘Projected growth in plastics production could lead by 2050 to the oceans containing more plastics than fish, by weight.
Unilever (which makes Pot Noodles), Danone and Mars promised a huge increase in the amount of plastic packaging that is recycled or reused
‘Most plastic packaging is used only once and 95 per cent of its value, estimated at £66billion-£100billion annually, is lost to the economy after its initial use.’
It said plastic production is on course to swallow up 20 per cent of global oil consumption.
There are also concerns for human health caused by plastic chemicals, such as phthalates and Bisphenol A, leeching into food and drink. As a result, ‘plastics and plastic packaging have gradually morphed from a fringe to a mainstream issue’.
The firms backing the initiative include manufacturers such as Pepsico, which makes Walkers crisps, retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Lidl, and household waste companies such as Veolia.
Pollution from plastic, including microbeads, is a more serious threat to marine habitats than previously thought.
The tiny plastic particles change habitats by reducing the amount of microalgae, which are an important food source for sea life, a study found.
This changes the creatures that can survive in a particular location. Scientists conducted their study at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland, an inlet noted for its fishing. It is published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Dr Dannielle Green, of Anglia Ruskin University, said: ‘Our study demonstrates the potential of microplastics to impact the functioning and structure of some marine habitats by reducing nutrients in the water and changing the types of animals that live there.’