Latest news on plastics

Final plastics update and fond farewells from the team.

16 Sep 2020

As mentioned in the last update, we’re scaling back our work on plastics so this will be our final instalment of latest news. Thanks to those of you who joined us at the last quarterly webinar earlier this month, it was a real pleasure to celebrate the many successes we’ve had together.  

We’re recruiting a campaigner to continue our refocused plastics work, and they may be in touch with a few of your groups about the Environment Bill in a couple of months. But for now, on behalf of all major campaign team members past and present, please can I say a huge thanks and warmest wishes for the future! 

Iceland reveals plastic footprint

Supermarket chain Iceland demonstrated real leadership this month by publishing its plastic footprint. Iceland has a plastic footprint of more than 32,000 tonnes across its UK and international operations in 2019. The retailer has a commitment to eliminating all plastic packaging from its own label products by 2023. It removed 3,794 tonnes out of the 13,000 tonnes the business was using in January 2018 by the end of 2019 – a 29% cut. 

The supermarket joined with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, A Plastic Planet and Surfers Against Sewage to call for greater transparency from other retailers and businesses over their plastic use.

Iceland also want the government to enforce mandatory reporting on plastic packaging and joined our call for meaningful targets in the Environment Bill to reduce plastic pollution. 

This move really puts pressure on other businesses and government to raise ambitions on plastic pollution. Are there businesses in your area that might also be willing to support Friends of the Earth and our allies on this issue? If so, please check out the link at the bottom of this update for action your group could take to make that count. 

Final push on the Environment Bill

As mentioned in our last update, the government’s Environment Bill was paused at the beginning of lockdown, but it’s expected to return to parliament in late September with key votes for plastics from October onwards. Last month Defra published draft environmental targets that could be set through the Environment Bill. But there’s no mention of plastic! 

Some local groups in key constituencies – such as South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth and Hillingdon Friends of the Earth – have been doing incredible work to engage their MPs and persuade them of the need to strengthen the Environment Bill. 

We’re already seeing signs that these grassroots lobbying efforts have started to shift political opinion. But we still need to persuade as many MPs as possible to support our amendments. These call for a specific target to address plastic pollution, and a framework to make that and other environmental targets meaningful. For more information please see our latest briefing

You can continue to lobby your MP and adapt our template joint letter for local media with support from your local allies like businesses, faith groups and civil society organisations. 

Other campaigning opportunities

The issue of plastic pollution is closely linked to some of our other campaigns.  

Much plastic ends up being incinerated, and this can actually be worse for the climate than burning coal! Find out more about our Climate Action campaign.

And of course much plastic ends up escaping directly into the environment and playing havoc with wildlife ready. As our trees campaign approaches its climax we’re developing a broader nature campaign, and we'd love to have you involved. Join us on 22 September, 19:00 – 20:30 or 24 September, 17:30 – 19:00 to share your ideas on how we can create a campaign that addresses the ecological emergency. Register to attend.

We hope you continue channeling the passion you’ve show on plastics into these campaigns! And finally, on that note, please remember to stay in touch through the Friends of the Earth plastics campaign Facebook group.

Plastics