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The eight plastic items that 'should be eliminated' by end of 2020

Plastic cups, which often wash up on beaches, should also be banned according to the report. Credit: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

There are eight plastic items that should be eliminated from shop shelves by the end of 2020, as part of the UK's pledge to cut single-use plastics, according to a report.

The list, which includes plastic straws and cutlery polystyrene packaging and plastic cotton buds, should be removed from shelves by the 2020 deadline by the dozens of companies signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, waste reduction body Wrap said.

The list also includes “oxo-degradables” which break down to create microplastics - small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.

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The eight for elimination are accompanied by a second list of 19 items to be “actively investigated” by pact members resulting in either avoidance, re-use, re-design or recycling or composting by 2025.

The list includes plastic bags, plastic film packaging, multi-pack rings for canned drinks, vegetable and fruit net bags, secondary wrapping around multi-packs and PVC cling film.

Wrap director Peter Maddox said: “We know that more people than ever are concerned about the impact of plastics. The fundamental way industry can support this public desire is by addressing the issues that lead to plastic packaging being problematic.

Plastic lids such as those used on coffee cups are to be investigated.

“So, for every item of packaging, we need to consider whether plastic is the right material choice, or indeed if packaging is required at all.

“In many cases, plastic may be the best material choice from an environmental perspective. In these cases, we need to ensure that the plastic can be and is recycled. The items listed today are priorities for UK Plastics Pact members, and the onus is on those members to implement changes, urgently.”

Wrap said its approach anticipated the UK Government’s ban on straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds and the European Union’s Single Use Plastic Directive, which additionally targets polystyrene food containers and single-use plastic cutlery and plates.

Cotton ear buds with plastic stems have also been marked for elimination.

Under the pact, the businesses have also agreed targets to make 100% of their plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable and to ensure 70% is effectively recycled or composted.

Members, which include major food and drink brands, supermarkets, manufacturers, retailers and plastic re-processors, will also ensure that there is an average 30% recycled content across plastic packaging by 2025.

Wrap, which is leading the pact, said the businesses involved are responsible for more than 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through British supermarkets.

In addition, 15 other organisations, including the British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation, have signed up to support the targets.

The eight items that 'should be eliminated':

  • Disposable plastic cutlery
  • All polystyrene packaging
  • Cotton buds with plastic stems
  • Plastic stirrers
  • Plastic straws
  • Oxo-degradables that break down to create microplastics
  • PVC packaging
  • Disposable plastic plates and bowls

The 19 items to be investigated:

  • Plastic bags, including carrier bags and fresh produce bags
  • Plastic film packaging e.g.crisps, fruit and vegetable film packaging
  • Multi-layer non recyclable plastics e.g. pouches
  • Multi-pack rings for canned drinks
  • Multi-veg/fruit net bags e.g. for citrus and some vegetables
  • Multi-buy bulk(secondary)wrapping e.g. multi pack crisps packaging and tins
  • PVC cling film
  • Bottle tops/caps
  • Single-use drinks bottles
  • Non-recyclable coloured plastics (including carbon black plastic e.g.some ready-meal trays, premium meat trays,some prepacked fish trays)
  • Fruit and veg punnets/trays e.g.grape, tomato,mushroom etc.
  • Internal plastic trays e.g. trays for premium biscuits
  • Disposable plastic cups
  • Fruit/veg stickers
  • Plastic cup lids (from hot beverage cups)
  • Plastic coffee pods
  • Milk and salad dressing jiggers, single serving pots and sachets e.g.used in on-the-go salads, milk sticks, condiments,cosmetics and samples
  • Tear off tamper evident strips on containers
  • Teabags