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More than 40 companies have signed up to a pact to cut plastic pollution over the next seven years.
The firms, which include Coca-Cola and Asda, have promised to honour a number of pledges such as eliminating single-use packaging through better design. They have joined the government, trade associations and campaigners to form the UK Plastics Pact.
The signatories are responsible for more than 80% of plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets. One of the promises which companies, such as consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble and Marks & Spencer, have signed up to is to make 100% of plastic packaging ready for recycling or composting by 2025.
Led by the sustainability campaign group WRAP, the pact is described as a "once-in-a lifetime opportunity" to rethink plastic both to make use of its value and to stop it damaging the environment.
The set of pledges to tackle plastic pollution over the next seven years include:
The problem with plastic is that most of it isn't biodegradable.Each year, 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of that is single-use - plastic we'll only use once before it's binned.
The other problem is that there have been some concerns recently raised by researchers about the safety of plastic and food. Products such as cling film, plastic containers and drinks bottles contain phthalates which are used in plastic production. Research shows that low level exposure can affect reproductive development, particularly in young boys, and a US study has found a link between exposure to phthalates and increased risk of diabetes and obesity in men.
Food safety is a priority for any food and drink businesses, which is why plastic has been used for so long. How can you stay safe whilst using sustainable packaging?
Big businesses have joined the pact and aim to reduce their plastic use. Starbucks will begin to use biodegradable straws in a selection of its outlets, Coca Cola say they will collect and reuse their plastic over the coming years.
As a small business, you may feel like a drop in the ocean but being sustainable appeals to customers and does make a difference to the local environment.
Scientists have also recently discovered an enzyme which eats plastic. PETase can break down material plastic in just a few days.
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