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Ellen MacArthur highlights global reach of Plastics Pact

By 27/04/2018News

The global significance of the newly-agreed Plastics Pact was highlighted at its official launch last night in London.

Addressing representatives of the 40 businesses who have signed up to the Pact, Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of her eponymous foundation, said she would like to “thank the UK government for taking a global and national lead on this”.

She said: “Effectively we use materials in a linear way, we take materials out of the ground, use it and throw it away. Plastic packaging is one of the most linear materials we use.

“Even if we collect most of that packaging it is not designed to be recycled. So we started to look at solution, the goal is a Circular Economy with materials restorative by design.”

Plastics Pact

While unveiling the Pact, Michael Gove also confirmed that the current PRN system will be changed

The Plastics Pact was unveiled yesterday (26 April) and includes voluntary aims to drive up recycling of plastics and greater use of recycled plastic material (see story).

Michael Gove

Secretary of state for the environment, Michael Gove also addressed the audience and said that “when we throw something away , the place that that rubbish goes is our home – our planet our environment.

“When we contemplate the way we have produced, relied on used and carelessly thrown away plastic, we need to think that it is catastrophic. As Dame Ellen has said, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

“It will change the balance of the health of the oceans and seas on which this world depends… and all of you have volunteered to help act to tackle this within the Pact.”

Mr Gove also confirmed that the current PRN – packaging waste recovery note – system will be changed. This is expected as part of the Resources and Waste Strategy measures. The secretary of state referred to the system as “Producer Responsiblity Notes” and promised to “reform that scheme to levy those costs on those producing the packaging and reward those who recycle.”

He did not explicity reference that the Pact is voluntary, rather than mandatory, but warned the audience: “We understand the vital importance of leading on this issue. You have to make sure the leadership you have shown is followed up by action”.


The audience then heard from a panel who discussed the Pact with representatives including Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP; Dan Cooke, director of external affairs at Viridor; and Mike Barry, director sustainable business at Marks & Spencer.

Marcus Gover said the aim is “a world where plastic is valued and doesn’t pollute the environment, that is what this is all about”. He explained how he had reached out to Ellen MacArthur on this and this was how the idea of the Pact came about.

Highlighting the aims of the Pact, Mr Gover said the aim was to achieve a 30% average recycled content across all plastics packaging and that he would like more manufacturers to sign up.

And, he touched on the issue of the fact that the Pact was not mandatory, warning “we have to show that voluntary approach does work otherwise people will say it doesn’t work.”

Looking ahead, Mr Gover said that the next steps will be agreeing the road map, working out what is “good” and what is “recyclable. We need to know what the system looks like”.


Plastics Pact

Panellists at the Plastics Pact event included (l-r) Marcus Gover, WRAP; Sander Defruyt, Ellen MacArthur Foundation; Dan Cooke, Viridor; Mike Barry, Marks & Spencer; and Sebastian Munden, Unilever

Dan Cooke noted how Viridor had “led the way with the development of recycling facilities that feed our plants. We want to do more of that. We want to be driven by involvement and collaboration with all you”, adding that the business was pleased to see retailers and producers cooperating.

And, Mr Cooke congratulated WRAP and Dame Ellen MacArthur for coming together on the Pact: “We have all seen horrible pictures of plastic and waste clogging the rivers and oceans. We have a high class and world class recycling chain and infrastructure to build on… We all have responsibility for these targets for we are not capturing enough from local authorities and business at present. For the first time there are meaningful ambitions around the resource economy.”

He reminded the audience of the need to get the message out that materials for recycling need to be placed in the right bins – “right stuff, right bin”.

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Source: Plastic