Monitoring needed to ensure effective sustainability

All sustainability pledges and initiatives in plastics packaging need to be translated into tangible and quantifiable actions, a new report by academics at the University of Surrey has concluded.

Supported by plastics recycling charity Recoup, the report, Recycle, Reuse, Renew: Food packaging pledges and promises in the fight against plastic pollution, investigated the sustainability policies of a number of companies – including PepsiCo, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Kraft Heinz – in relation to single-use plastics (focusing on solid objects formed from plastics).

The report looked at how businesses are changing their view of single use plastics and explored whether their sustainability policies were effective in the move towards a circular economy for plastics.

It noted that there has been no shortage of policy development regarding the circular economy within the UK and the European Union and also highlighted the growing number of private and voluntary initiatives, including the voluntary UK Plastics Pact, launched in 2018.

As a result of these initiatives, the report found a trend away from single-use plastics and towards a greater commitment to the circular economy. However, it also warned that “commitments to ‘do good’ in this sphere are but a first step in the process. Monitoring the extent to which companies ultimately deliver on their targets for behaviour change will be essential, if we are to trace the tangible impact of companies’ pledges in shaping more sustainable business models and contributing to the circular economy.”

Public concerns about plastics packaging will only continue to grow. The report emphasised that the pledges and promises made by companies need to “benefit the environment, with sector-wide evidence-based monitoring to ensure that companies deliver on the promises they make.”

The report can be viewed here.