The UK and US produce more plastic per person than any other major country in the world. Single-use plastics pollute the sea and earth making a significant contribution to climate change. The UK is now putting measures in place to reduce this plastic waste by banning single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene cups from early next year.
Microplastics have even been found on mountain tops. Scientists have discovered that these particles entered the eco-systems through rain deposits. Plastic has managed to make its way to the top of Mount Everest, as well as reaching the depths of the oceans.
If countries are to have any hope of reaching their net zero goals, they must tackle this issue head on.
So, how is the UK planning on reducing its plastic waste, and what does this mean for businesses?
The effects of single-use plastic
The UK uses around 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery every year. And just 10% of this waste is recyclable. Disposing of waste and in particular, plastics unethically can destroy habitats and threaten to wipe out entire species. More than 1 million birds along with 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die each year after becoming entangled in plastic waste.
Businesses across the country are taking various measures to encourage employees to reduce waste and remove single-use plastic. Offering staff reusable lunch boxes and drinkware, or replacing plastic packed items with homemade or loose alternatives are good ways to reduce single-use plastic.
Packaging made from wood, plants, food waste and other biodegradable materials could be the answer to the UK’s waste problem. But before any alternatives can be widely distributed, the UK must first phase out single-use plastic.
How is the UK tackling the problem?
As the world continues to strive towards net zero, the UK hopes to establish itself as an innovative sustainability leader. The UK government has put several pieces of legislation in motion, helping to guide businesses and communities towards a greener future.
Following the success of the mandatory 5p charge on plastic bags back in 2015, supermarkets have managed to cut consumption by an astounding 95%. Since then, the charge has been increased to 10p preventing billions of plastic bags from being circulated and ultimately polluting the landscape.
The government also intends to impose a new Plastic Packaging Tax, from April 2022. The tax will apply to businesses that manufacture or import certain plastic packaging materials. Under the legislation, businesses will be fined £200 per tonne for plastic containing less than 30% recycled content, in the hope of encouraging greater use of recycled material. It also intends to make companies pay the full cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging.
The ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ scheme will be phased in from 2023. This policy will ensure producers are given significant responsibility, both financially and physically, for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. This could incentivise producers to reduce plastic production at the source, and in turn, cut waste.
How can Monarch help?
Becoming sustainable is no longer merely an option – it is now a necessity. It is within the best interests of businesses and the environment alike to become as eco-friendly as possible.
At Monarch, we understand the importance of adapting to the changing world. And we are on hand to help you achieve this. Our expert team can tailor our Optimised Waste Efficiency solutions to meet your business needs. By identifying the main issues in your company’s waste management and applying solutions, we can improve the management of your waste removal.
Get in touch to hear how Monarch can help you future-proof your business and accelerate towards net zero.