More than 40 businesses made a pledge to tackle plastic pollution Thursday by signing up to the U.K. Plastics Pact.
The businesses — which include ASDA, Tesco, P&G, Coca Cola European Partners and Unilever — have committed to meeting a number of ambitious goals by 2025.
These include, among other things: getting rid of problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging via redesign, innovation or alternative delivery models; making all plastic packaging either reusable, recyclable or compostable; and ensuring that 70 percent of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted.
The pact was launched by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a not-for-profit organization specializing in sustainability.
"Together, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reshape the future of plastic so that we retain its value, and curtail the damage plastic waste wreaks on our planet," WRAP CEO Marcus Gover said in a statement.
"This requires a wholescale transformation of the plastics system and can only be achieved by bringing together all links in the chain under a shared commitment to act."
The issue of plastic waste is a serious one. Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste per year, according to the European Commission. Less than 30 percent of this is collected for recycling.
The U.K.'s Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, welcomed the announcement of the pact. "Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realized if government, businesses and the public work together," he said.
Gove added that industry action could prevent excess plastic reaching supermarket shelves in the first place. "I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit."