WRAP Waste & Resources Action Programme






WRAP Resource March 2020 plastics single use packaging




The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has launched a new public-facing campaign to provide citizens with the latest information on plastic packaging to allow them to make informed decisions about its use.

The new campaign, entitled ‘Clear on Plastics’, launched today (2 March) will seek to explain the role of plastic packaging in protecting products and offer a balanced presentation of the benefits and drawbacks of alternative materials, while offering citizens advice on how to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging consumption.

Clear on Plastics will be social media-led with influencer content and the support of UK Plastics Pact members, including local authorities amplifying its reach.

The campaign includes a website that answers questions such as ‘Why can’t we just ban all plastic packaging?’, ‘Why can’t we replace plastic with other materials such as glass or paper?’ and ‘Is recycling just an excuse to carry on producing more plastic?’ in response to consumer confusion over plastic packaging.

Recent times have seen an explosion of anti-plastic sentiment among the public, motivated by images on popular TV shows such as Blue Planet II showing the impact of plastic packaging on the environment.

Public antipathy towards plastics has seen companies switch to alternative materials for single-use products, though research from environmental think tank Green Alliance has shown that plastic alternatives such as aluminum or glass are still damaging to the environment if used in a single-use context, while consumers have expressed frustration at recycling information on plastic packaging.

The Clear on Plastics website also addresses compostable and biodegradable plastics, following on from the publication of WRAP’s guidance on compostable packaging at the start of February.

WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact, which was launched in April 2018, is an industry initiative that aims to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic items and increase the recyclability and recycling of plastic packaging.

Plastics Pact members, including major retailers and brands such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Coca-Cola, have made significant progress towards their 2025 goals, with members more than halfway towards all their packaging being recyclable and a third of the way towards using an average of 30 per cent recycled content in their packaging.

Commenting on the campaign, Peter Maddox, Director of WRAP UK, said: “When we set up The UK Plastics Pact we committed to uniting an entire supply chain with a common goal to keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment. We also committed to engaging with citizens, who are concerned about the environment and want to understand how they can play their part. But we know that navigating the issues around this complex material can be tricky.

“We’ve listened to the most common areas for confusion and have designed Clear on Plastics to address those, so that citizens are empowered to make their own informed decisions when it comes to plastics.” 
By Lidia Creech




Not to be confused with vinyl vehicle wrapping or plastic cling film, at WRAP, they aim to focus on circular thinking of food waste, textiles, clothing, plastic packaging, collections and recycling. 

By ‘designing out’ waste during production and consumption WRAP hope to retain its value and mitigate the damage being inflicted on our planet.

WRAP take a holistic approach, gather and consider the evidence, collaborate with all partners in the system and propose – through facilitation with businesses or deliver on behalf of governments - circular solutions that they consider will work together and across the supply chain to protect and restore our natural world.

We work with governments throughout the world to shape policy and develop and deliver practical interventions to help deliver against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals targets 12.3 and 12.5.

We note no suggestion as to international legislation to bind the UK or any other government they are working with, to meet the Paris targets.

The UK government's recent Resources and Waste Strategy offers some solutions. These include Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging, Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) and consistent municipal recycling collections (set to be introduced from 2023), and a tax on plastics packaging with low levels of recycled content (scheduled for April 2022). 

But if the tax is wasted in other government spending, or distributed to other good causes, as with the plastic bag tax, the suggestions will do little incentivise the offenders, and reward those who take action. Hence, we need something along the lines of the Cleaner Ocean Foundations 7Seven Point Plan. Not just for the UK, but as part of an international and fully orchestrated commitment to eliminate problem plastic.


In our view the proposed Environment Plan (outlined below) is conceptually flawed from the foundations up by an unrealistic timescale, allowing 25 years to achieve this government's aims, based on pre Covid thinking, where Covid like urgency should have been a prerequisite. Covid is/was life threatening. So is plastic waste.


In Wales, WRAP work on behalf of the Welsh Government to provide strategic, technical and operational support to local authorities to help them reach the statutory target of 70% recycling by 2025 and the goal of being zero waste by 2050. 

In the UK, 9.5 million tonnes of food are wasted every year and 70% of this comes from our homes. 


Food takes a lot of precious resources to produce it; water, agricultural land and energy to farm and harvest it. That's a lot of carbon dioxode invested in producing food, then we throw all that investment away when we waste if.

Food waste is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (if it were a country) behind the US and China.



Julie Hill
Robert Longley-Cook
Sarah Chapman
Sue Corbett
Sachin Kapila
Michaelene Kinnersley
Jim Oatridge
Marc Stephens
Sophie Thomas


Senior Leadership Team 
Marcus Gover
Charles Darley
Tom Lewis-Reynier
Angela Pulley
Paul Suller
Richard Swannell
Emmanuel Agyei
Ben Blackburn
Sarah Clayton
Ian Garner
Janet Harding
Claire Kneller
Joanne McCulloch
David Moon
Carl Nichols
Luisa Pastore
David Rogers
Claire Shrewsbury







In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Conservative government (under Theresa May) pledged to leave the environment in a better condition for the next generation. The Conservatives  hope this strategy will help the UK meet that commitment. It will be supported by a series of consultations on known problem areas, such as packaging waste, and they encourage you to engage with them in delivering this strategy by sharing your views, such that they might harvest good ideas and present your views in a way that (typically) is not exactly what the public are thinking - but allows them to say there has been a consultation. Let's not beat around the bush, this is how ideas they don't like are filtered out!

The Conservative plan is to become a world leader in using resources efficiently and reducing the amount of waste we create as a society. They want to prolong the lives of the materials and goods that we use, and move society away from the inefficient ‘linear’ economic model of ‘take, make, use, throw’, otherwise known as Single Use, or the Disposable Society.


Judging by the state of the River Thames, the Conservatives have a long way to go. The encouraging thing is that they are starting to think more long-term, where Margaret Thatcher was the short-term Queen that landed us with the renting society of financial slaves, in making affordable houses an unattainable dream for young families.

Chapter 1 – Sustainable production

During the first stage of the resources lifecycle, they aim to turn valuable natural resources and materials into the goods and services upon which modern life and a healthy, vibrant economy depend. Evidence suggests that 80% of the damage inflicted upon the environment when products become waste can be avoided if more thoughtful decisions are made at the production stage [footnote 2].

This chapter sets out how we will:

- invoke the ‘polluter pays’ principle and extend producer responsibility for packaging, ensuring that producers pay the full costs of disposal for packaging they place on the market
- stimulate demand for recycled plastic by introducing a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled plastic
- harness the potential of extended producer responsibility for other product types
- set minimum requirements through ecodesign to encourage resource efficient product design
- manage chemicals sustainably and address barriers to reuse and recycling posed by their use, through a Chemicals Strategy
- develop a model for realising resource efficiency savings, working with businesses through ‘resource efficiency clusters’

Chapter 2 – Helping consumers take more considered actions

Helping consumers choose and use more sustainable products, is both good for them and the environment. Despite advances in technology in recent decades, the average life span of many products we buy and use in daily life is actually lower than it was 20 years ago [footnote 3] We want to extend the lives of products through repair, reuse and remanufacture. We want to help consumers to be able to recycle the materials they contain and dispose of them in the most environmentally sensitive ways.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- incentivise consumers to purchase sustainably
- provide consumers with better information on the sustainability of their purchases
- ban plastic products where there is a clear case for it and alternatives exist
- address barriers to reuse
- support the market for remanufactured goods
- encourage appropriate disposal of used products
- lead by example though procurement and the Greening Government Commitments


Chapter 3 – Resource recovery and waste management


Household waste recycling rates in England have risen from around 11% in 2000/1 to about 45% [footnote 4]. Recycling rates in construction have also improved over the same period [footnote 5]. But since 2013 rates for both have plateaued. We need to drive better quantity and quality in recycling, and more investment in domestic recycled materials markets. This government supports comprehensive and frequent waste collections and is determined to help local authorities and waste management companies act in the most sustainable and resource-efficient way possible. We want to promote UK-based recycling and export less waste to be processed abroad.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- improve recycling rates by ensuring a consistent set of dry recyclable materials is collected from all households and businesses
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill by ensuring that every householder and appropriate businesses have a weekly separate food waste collection, subject to consultation
- improve urban recycling rates, working with business and local authorities
- improve working arrangements and performance between local authorities
- drive greater efficiency of Energy from Waste (EfW) plants
- address information barriers to the use of secondary materials
- encourage waste producers and managers to implement the waste hierarchy in respect to hazardous waste

Chapter 4 – Tackling waste crime

Waste-related criminal activity costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds per year [footnote 6]. Rogue operators illegally dump or export waste, undermining legitimate businesses by disposing of waste cheaply and recklessly. This deprives the economy of tax income and harms the environment and local communities. By tackling this crime we will ensure that resources are properly recycled or recovered and fed back into the economy.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- improve the transport, management and description of waste by reforming existing regulations
- strengthen intelligence sharing and engagement to tackle illegal activity
- prevent illegal activity being hidden through waste exemptions by reforming the existing regime
- mandate the digital recording of waste movements, subject to consultation
- create a Joint Unit for Waste Crime
- toughen penalties for waste criminals
- increase awareness of waste regulations and publicise positive work of enforcement bodies as they tackle waste crime

Chapter 5 – Enough is enough: cutting down on food waste

We have long recognised the need to tackle food waste. In the UK alone, an estimated 10 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted post-farm gate annually, worth around £20 billion. Excess food waste costs us money and is environmentally damaging. Growing excess food that no one eats damages the Earth’s ecosystems when we dispose of it. Moreover, a fifth of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are associated with food and drink, mostly created during production (agriculture and manufacturing) – and needlessly if the food and drink are wasted [footnote 7]. We are fully committed to reducing food waste, reducing our carbon footprint, and also meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal to halve global food waste at consumer and retail levels by 2030.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- more effectively redistribute food to those who need it most before it can go to waste
- consult on annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses
- consult on legal powers to introduce food waste targets and surplus food redistribution obligations
- publish a new food surplus and waste hierarchy
- promote awareness of the issue by appointing a new food waste champion
- support cross sector collaboration through the Courtauld 2025 agreement

Chapter 6 – Global Britain: international leadership

Concerns over resources and waste management cut across continents and oceans. Pollution and environmental damage do not respect national borders and tackling them requires a broad coalition. Plastic which pollutes the ocean can be carried by currents and cause damage far from where it originated: there is little to be gained by making improvements in isolation. International leadership is needed.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- promote the goals of our Resources and Waste Strategy internationally
- drive international political commitments through the ground-breaking Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance
- support developing nations to tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste, including through UK aid
- improve the quality of plastics exported for recycling through the Basel and Stockholm Conventions
- establish cross-government oversight of the UK’s natural resource security

Chapter 7: Research and innovation

In some areas where we are seeking transformative change, our knowledge, data or technology has yet to match the breadth of our ambitions. Innovation here is vital – both to developing novel solutions and improving the efficiency, cost and/or effectiveness of existing technologies. As government, we can support industry and academia to stimulate innovation.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- support further investment and innovation in resource efficiency, working with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on our Areas of Research Interest
- launch a call for evidence on the development of standards for bio-based and biodegradable plastics
- support further investment in resource efficient technologies, including through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
- support the Waste and Resources Action Programme
- encourage innovative waste treatment technologies that create transport fuels through the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO)

Chapter 8 – Measuring progress: data, monitoring and evaluation

High quality data, information and insights are essential for effective policy making.

This chapter sets out how we will:

- work with our partners and stakeholders to develop a shared vision and bold new approach to data on resources and waste
- move away from weight-based towards impact-based targets and reporting, focusing initially on carbon and natural capital accounting
- maintain the coverage and quality of local authority-collected waste and improve data collection to meet future needs
- work with tech firms to develop innovative digital solutions for tracking waste, and consult on options to mandate the digital recording and sharing of waste movement data






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T: +44 2895 908021


The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (No. 4125764). WRAP registered with the Charity Commission (No. 1159512) in England and Wales in December 2014. Registered office at Second Floor, Blenheim Court, 19 George Street, Banbury, Oxon, OX16 5BH. 


WRAP is an EU registered trade mark.








* Adidas

* Algalita research foundation

* Aliance to end Plastic Waste AEPW

* Baltimore Mr Trash river cleaning barge

* BAN - Basel Convention Action Network

* Boyan Slat's ocean booms

* CLAIM H2020 EU marine plastic project

* Earth Day - Fact sheet ocean plastic

* Fionn Ferreira's ferrofluid extraction of microplastics

* FlashLight Press Michelle Lord & Julia Blatt

* Greenpeace

* GRIPS - Global Research & Innovation in Plastics Sustainability

* 5 Gyres Institute

* Interceptor tethered river cleaning barges

* Junk Raft - plastic awareness voyage

* Kids Against Plastic Tat KAPTAT

* Kulo Luna graphic novel

* Miss Ocean - Plastic Awareness Events

* 4Ocean recycled plastic bracelets

* Nike - Sneakers from recycled materials, ocean spills

* Ocean Voyages Institute

* Ocean Waste Plastic

* Parley AIR

* Plastic Free Eastbourne

* Plastic Oceans Canada

* Plastic Oceans Chile

* Plastic Oceans Mexico

* Plastic Oceans Org

* Plastic Oceans UK

* Recycling Technologies

* Rozalia Project

* Seabin

* Sea Litter Critters

* SeaVax autonomous drones

* Surfers Against Sewage

* Surrey University PIRATE & Triton

* World Oceans Day

* WRAP - Waste & Resources Action Programme





CAMPAIGN FOR ZERO WASTE - Supermarkets and oil companies have a lot to answer for. Politicians must explain why they let the retailers and fossil fuel industry get away with a practice they know to be harmful to marine life. Companies are largely driven by money and greed, their shareholders often kept in the dark. All the while millions of seabirds are dying, polar bears are playing with plastic and even shellfish have become inedible in some locations. This is morally unsound!


The River Thames is one of the filthiest rivers in the world in terms of microplastics and fibers. Yet nobody from the UK Government has made contact with the Foundation in over four years - even to test the water - nor Bluebird Marine in the two preceding years 2015-16. It speaks for itself that they must be happy as pigs in ---t!




WRAP is not alone in the fight against ocean plastic. These emerging technologies could all play a part in containing the mountain of plastic that is accumulating on the oceans floors, by recovering floating debris before it sinks. New ideas are welcomed.














1. We talk about plastic waste being ‘avoidable’ when the plastic could have been reused or recycled; when a reusable or recyclable alternative could have been used instead; or when it could have been composted or biodegraded in the open environment.

2. WRAP (2013) http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Embedding%20sustainability%20in%20design%20%20-%20final%20v1.pdf

3. The German Environment Agency (2017) https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/press/pressinformation/lifetime-of-electrical-appliances-becoming-shorter

4. Local authority collected waste from households from January 2010 to March 2018. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/env18-local-authority-collected-waste-annual-results-tables

5. UK government services and information (2018) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/uk-waste-data

6. Defra - Rethinking Waste Crime (2018) https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste/crime-and-poor-performance-in-the-waste-sector/supporting_documents/Waste_Crime_Cons_English.pdf

7. WRAP (2016) http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/food-waste/written/38003.html 












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