Valpak describes innovation and collaboration as crucial to meeting targets on plastics

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The UK’s largest packaging compliance scheme, Valpak, says innovation and collaboration will be key for companies meeting challenging targets under the UK’s voluntary Plastic Pact agreement.

Valpak is a data partner for the pact, which came into force in April. The agreement sets demanding targets in areas such as increasing recyclability and including recycled content. WRAP recently published A Roadmap to 2025 – The UK Plastics Pact, which outlines key outcomes and activities that will help businesses to meet the targets. In the role of data partner, Valpak will help signatories to use their packaging data to identify actions to meet the targets, to monitor progress and to recognise barriers if they fail to achieve any of their goals.

Principal consultant, Kathy Illingworth, described meeting the target to recycle or compost 70 per cent of plastic waste as one of the greatest challenges for producers. She said: “The UK currently recycles 47 per cent, so meeting 70 per cent by 2025 is a big step up. The target relates to recycling levels across the UK, so although pact members may meet their own ambitions, hitting the target will also rely on others in the market, and on the consumer’s willingness to recycle.

“Innovation and truly collaborative working will be essential. There won’t be one single answer – we need to see a blend of different innovations – but the signatories have set a joint goal, so hopefully they will complement each other and work collaboratively instead of pulling in different directions.”

Companies that sign up to the pact will be required to submit annual data to WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme). Valpak is able to collect the data through its Data Insight Platform to enable it to monitor progress. Existing Valpak data management customers already have access to the platform, which allows them to scrutinise supply chain data and compare products against metrics such as recycled content or use of coloured plastics. Pact members are able to access a dedicated tab within the platform, which automatically flags up the items which meet targets and those which do not.

Valpak also supports retailers and manufacturers through its Plastic Matters events. These specialist seminars are designed to update businesses on topics such as design for recyclability, dealing with hard to recycle plastics, bioplastics and extended producer responsibility. Recent events have covered technological developments and opportunities, disposal routes, and the suitability of alternatives to plastics.

Illingworth said: “Evidence-based data is the key to assessing progress. At this stage, most signatories are not meeting the target, so they need a baseline to identify target areas for change.” 

She added: “Meeting the targets will be demanding, but there is plenty of support available. Signatories have access to WRAP guidance and Valpak’s data tools but, in addition, it’s the partnership element of working towards the same end goal that makes the agreement unique.