Companies like Coca Cola and Nestle commit to cutting plastic pollution

Joe Tidy, Sky News Correspondent

Some of the world's biggest and most popular brands of food, drink and cleaning products have signed up to an ambitious pact to reduce plastic pollution.

Forty-two businesses including Coca Cola, Pepsi co, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Birdseye and Nestle have promised to reduce packaging and increase recycling.

It is the latest initiative to have been inspired by Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign.

Another 15 organisations have also agreed to the targets set out in the UK Plastics Pact which is being launched by sustainability organisation WRAP.

The not-for-profit group says the firms that have so far signed up are responsible for more than 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets.

The pact has set out a list of goals that each firm must achieve by 2025:

:: Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models.

:: 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable

:: 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted

:: 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging

Marcus Gover, Head of WRAP said of the news: "Together, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage plastic waste wreaks on our planet.

"This requires a transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act. That is what makes the UK Plastics Pact unique."

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One of the largest firms on the list is Procter & Gamble which makes Aerial, Head & Shoulders and Pampers amongst other brands. The company has been working to boost the amount of recycled material in its shampoo bottles for years.

It admits there is a lot of work to do to reach the targets in the Plastics Pact. Aimee Goldsmith, head of communications at the firm told Sky News that there are a lot of things to consider before changing packaging.

"There's a whole packaging development team who works at P&G to make sure that the product reaches the end user in perfect condition," she said.

"That might be the stability of the bottle, the fragility of the bottle, whether or not it's going to fracture or degrade when it's in our hot shower room. So we'll be looking at all types of things relating to the plastics that we use in our products."

For some campaigners though, the pact does not go far enough to reduce plastic use overall.

Sian Sutherland, founder of A Plastic Planet, said: "what we want to see from this pact is not just a set of recycling targets but also an absolute, measurable target which is about a dramatic reduction in the use of food and drink packaging overall, that's the only way to turn off the plastics tap in our society."

Wrap says the UK Plastics Pact is the first of its kind in the world. It hopes to replicate the scheme in other countries to form a global movement for change with companies and nations signing up.

:: Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

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