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SME Businesses Struggle To Cut Out Plastics From Packaging

A YouGov survey of more than 1,000 senior decision makers in Small or Medium Enterprise (SME) businesses has been commissioned by Keep Britain Tidy and BRITA UK. Despite public calls for businesses to focus on environmental damage, single use plastics and innovation into circular economy practices, the survey reports that only half (52%) of SME businesses are doing all they can to reduce single-use plastic waste.

We use five million tonnes of plastic in the UK every year, nearly half of which is packaging. Media scrutiny and government attention on unnecessary and hard to recycle packaging is higher than ever before, with programs such as the BBC’s ‘War on Waste’. And whilst many businesses are now trailing alternative methods, innovating in packaging and marketing their greener alternatives, only 43% of the SME businesses surveyed said they had not carried out any measures to reduce their single-use plastic waste.

Keep Britain Tidy has stressed that the charity is not criticising inaction but rather wants to work help businesses to find solutions.

Allison Ogden-Newton, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive, said: “This research makes for shocking reading, but it is not simply about knocking businesses for inaction – it is about understanding the barriers they face and looking to work with them to offer the expertise, support and guidance that will help them transform for good. Keep Britain Tidy is a charity that is focused on developing solutions and, through these solutions, helping businesses tackle the problems of waste, including single-use plastic.”

SME’s are facing rising costs of compliance of packaging waste, uncertainty in the face of Brexit and rapid legislation changes are on the horizon, all of which are leading to reduced resources and limiting the opportunities to make headway in reducing environmental impact. The survey, for example, reported that two thirds (65%) are finding less environmentally impactful alternatives that still do the same job is a challenge, while 56% worry about the high cost of alternatives.

The recent consultations on the Resources and Waste Strategy highlight to the industry that the future will entail a system that is far more focused on the polluter pays principle. The public demand for prioritising environmental concerns is also helping to encourage businesses to future proof themselves from the rising costs of packaging compliance.

Although future changes to the producer responsibility system are unlikely to be introduced until at least 2023, Clarity Environmental’s Head of Sustainable Business, Jimmy Dorrell, advises businesses to get a head start for the inevitable challenges ahead.

“The proposed changes in packaging legislation are designed to make businesses think differently about packaging. But despite packaging, particularly plastics, racing up the agenda most SME’s have not taken any steps. Without changes in how businesses use packaging, these legislative changes could impact the bottom-line. There are steps that all businesses can take now to prepare, starting with a risk assessment, and we are advising businesses to work with us to future-proof their packaging and be ahead of the pack.”

Comply with Clarity

We are encouraging our packaging compliance members to consider making changes to packaging now to avoid the costs of inaction. We can help by looking at your data, the packaging you use and the opportunities for and reducing the impact of packaging.

Our cost-effective packaging compliance scheme has been designed to handle your producer responsibility obligations on your behalf, giving you peace of mind and saving you time and money whilst providing guidance on how to go beyond compliance with your businesses packaging.

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