Fruit and vegetables from a supermarket with associated plastic waste

Take action to ensure polluters pay for their role in the single-use packaging crisis

The UK Government is currently consulting on a major reform to packaging legislation in a move that could force producers to foot the bill for dealing with ever-growing mountains of single-use packaging waste.

We are urging tougher measures to clamp down on pointless packaging altogether and drive a transition away from our single-use society.

You can help by sending an email supporting these core principles for revamping the system! Just copy and paste the text at the end of this article (adding any additional points you may wish to make as to why it’s time to get tough on single-use packaging) and send it to [email protected] by 13 May.

In recent decades, the amount of single-use packaging used by big companies has spiralled, in particular plastic packaging which now represents 67 per cent of UK plastic waste. Currently, only a third of the UK’s plastic packaging is recycled. The rest is sent to landfill or escapes into the natural environment, where it causes significant harm.

A woman sifts through a Pile of Plastic waste collected for processing

Plastic waste collected for processing in China

The UK’s recycling rate to date has been heavily dependent on shipping waste overseas, leaving developing countries to bear the brunt of our wasteful culture.

It is clear that urgent action is required to reverse these trends. We welcome the Government’s move looking to reform legislation on packaging, using the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to ensure the polluter pays the full costs associated with the products they place on the market. EPR should encourage more sustainable, lower-impact design of packaging while raising money to cover the costs associated with dealing with packaging waste.

The proposal is an improvement on the current system, in which producers get away with paying just seven per cent of the costs associated with waste management; however, it falls short on a number of crucial fronts.

In order to address these concerns, please take a moment to email [email protected] in support of the following principles. We’ve suggested some wording below:


Take action – email the UK Government

To whom it may concern,

I am getting in touch regarding the consultation on a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging.

While the proposal represents an improvement on the status quo, I urge the UK to show environmental leadership and make additional reforms, embedding the following core principles into the scheme:

  • Address the root cause of the problem: A significant reduction in single-use packaging is needed to close the gulf between packaging use and recycling levels in the UK. The EPR scheme must be designed to encourage a wholescale move away from non-essential packaging, with a shift into reusable and refillable alternatives
  • Make sure ‘full costs’ mean full costs: Packaging doesn’t just become a problem at the point of disposal. From sourcing through to consumption, there are social and environmental costs all along its life cycle. Producers must be made to consider these under EPR requirements to properly satisfy the ‘polluter pays principle’
  • Set producer fees to ensure sustainable design: Non-recyclable, excessive and toxic packaging must be phased out through the ‘approved list’ for packaging design, with a fee system designed to encourage reusable and sustainable design choices
  • End the shameful social and environmental impacts of so-called ‘recycling’ exports: The UK must end its reliance on exporting waste overseas, focusing instead on building a circular economy in the UK. The very highest environmental and social responsibility standards must be met for any future waste exports
  • Implement robust monitoring and full transparency: Strong accountability and enforcement measures must be put in place, with third party audits rather than self-monitoring by producers.

The UK Government has declared a climate and environment emergency. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that these were not empty words. 

Yours sincerely

(Your name here)


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