UK faces 'strong' crackdown on plastic packaging with new rules 'at scale'

There are calls for a UK crackdown on plastic packaging to drive the green economy. FTSE 100 firm DS Smith, which works with firms over alternatives, has urged the next government to match global standards ahead of the General Election which is set to take place on July 4.

Miles Roberts, the chief executive of the packaging firm DS Smith, has celebrated the firm surpassing its target to replace more than 1bn pieces of plastic 16 months early. Its team of 700 experts working in partnership with major food, drink and cleaning product makers has led to the removal of 1.2bn pieces of plastic from its products.

It includes 274m in the UK. Mr Roberts said EU regulations had been vital in “really supporting the much greater use of material that’s recycled and recyclable”. He told the Guardian newspaper: “It is important to note that if our customers – the biggest [grocery] brands – are to remove plastics at scale and at pace, they need the right regulatory framework around them. What we need are stronger, harmonised, global, regulations that level the playing field, to help businesses move away from plastic.

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“If a new government wants more of a green economy, then recyclability is part of that. It is not enough to have a few windmills in the sea, not just green energy, but green consumption and clearing up our messes.” He went on: “I would like to see a clearer regulatory framework if we are going to deal with these challenges.

"Why not use systems that are already working in other countries?” Retailers are being urged to stop making everyday products such as drinks bottles, outdoor furniture and toys out of brightly coloured plastic after researchers found it degrades into microplastics faster than plainer colours.

“It’s amazing that samples left to weather on a rooftop in Leicester and those collected on a windswept beach at the southern tip of the African continent show similar results,” said Dr Sarah Key, who led the project. “What the experiments showed is that even in a relatively cool and cloudy environment for only three years, huge differences can be seen in the formation of microplastics.”