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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Retailers lead the way

With retailer Iceland committing to get rid of plastic packaging from their own brand products by 2023, Enviromental Scientist Dr Laurie Wright calls upon the government to set goals, targets and definitive dates to enforce the aspiration of the 25-year environmental plan.

"The UK government should take note, retailer Iceland today announced a commitment to eliminating plastic for their own brand products by 2023. They claim to be the first major retailer globally to commit to such a goal, and have the support of the majority of their customer base.

Iceland’s commitment comes on the back of the UK government’s recently released 25-year environmental plan. The prime minister’s speech set an ambitious vision for environmental protection – leaving the environment in a better position through elimination of plastics, enhancing nature, and tackling climate change. 

The links to the powerful global agreements including the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement are to be applauded. However, the plan fails to include definitive targets, goals, or any mechanism to enforce the pure aspiration. Without the teeth of regulation the plan is little more than a sweetener for the environmental aware voter, the veneer of a government doing the right thing.

Beyond this, twenty-five years is simply too long, these issues need addressing now. Indeed, can be addressed now, as demonstrated by the leadership of retailers such as Iceland. We are primed for a shift in our relationship with plastics, with our waste, and with the environment. Powerful documentary images have bought the issue to the fore, now is the time to act. We cannot wait for yet another generation to tackle the problem."