Food manufacturers operating in the UK, including Nestle, Unilever and Premier Foods plc, today (26 April) set out a series of pledges on plastics, including ending the use of single-use plastics by 2025.

Under the auspices of WRAP, a UK charity that focuses on promoting the sustainable use of resources, 42 businesses, which also include Danone, Associated British Foods and Arla Foods, have also committed to only use plastic packaging that is “reusable, recyclable and compostable”.

The suppliers, which WRAP said account for more than 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets, have pledged 70% of plastic packaging will be “effectively recycled or composted” and said there would be “30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging”.

The UK’s four largest grocers, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, are among the retailers to have signed up to the pledges. The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, plus the devolved Scottish and Welsh governments are also signatories.

The use of plastic and the waste that ensues has become an issue of growing public concern, with scores of businesses individually issuing announcements on how they would make changes within their supply chain.

Marcus Gover, the chief executive of WRAP, said the initiative was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic”.

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He added: “This requires a whole-scale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act.”

Dame Ellen MacArthur, the British sailor behind UK charity  The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has brought together consumer-goods companies on other initiatives and in 2016 launched its own New Plastics Economy programme to apply the principles of the circular economy to plastics.

The charity has worked with WRAP on the UK pact, which MacArthur described as “bold”. She added: “Focussing on innovation, better packaging design and end-of-use systems will not only generate long-term benefits for the environment, but is also a huge economic opportunity.”