Recycled plastic: a fairy tale that needs to come true



Once upon a time plastic was a miracle packaging material; strong, light, cheap and with good barrier properties. Last month, as more photos of waste plastic polluting the ocean were circulating on social media, big consumer brands were committing to be more responsible in their use of plastic packaging.

MARS, M&S, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, and Werner & Mertz pledged to use 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 at the latest. This is a step in the right direction, but we aren’t going to reduce the plastic in the ocean unless brands commit to buying actual recycled plastic, rather than just ‘recyclable’. Procter & Gamble is taking a different approach, which does start to create a demand for recycled plastic.  They have chosen the iconic Fairy Liquid for the launch of a new Ocean Plastic bottle made from 10% ocean plastic and 90% post-consumer recycled plastic.

The other important news is that China announced a while ago that it will stop importing some waste plastic from the end of 2017. China imported 7.3 million tonnes of waste plastics last year, taking in over half the world’s leftover plastic. This gives us another reason to act, or our landfill will fill up faster than ever. European regulators are already discussing measures to divert waste away from landfill and increase recycling: publication of a plastics strategy is promised for December.

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