09/03/2021 – Sustainability / Plastics / Covid / Bureau Veritas / UK
Bureau Veritas presses firms to renew their sustainability focus following a rise in single-use plastics
UK businesses are being urged to prioritise their efforts to reduce single-use plastics by certification leader Bureau Veritas, following a rise in plastic waste in 2020 as firms took steps to limit human contact during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some café chains and train operators banned reusable cups at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, while a number of supermarkets removed loose fruit and vegetables to reduce the risk of transmission. Moreover, the 5 pence charge for single-use plastic bags was waived for online deliveries between March and September 2020.
This prioritisation of hygiene over sustainability fuelled a rise in single-use plastic waste, after years of strong efforts to begin tackling the global plastic waste issue.
Now, Bureau Veritas – a leading sustainability authority, and global leader in testing, inspection and certification services – says it is time to get back on track towards a low-carbon future. Such an endeadour is especially important ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), set to be hosted by the UK in November.
Getting businesses back on track
“The circular economy business model will be key if the UK is to achieve the Government’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050 – and reducing the use of single use plastics plays an important part in this,” stressed David Murray, Technical Director for Sustainability at Bureau Veritas, who added that tackling this issue would undoubtedly be a key priority ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow later this year.
“The surge in single-use plastics last year was necessary,” he added, “but now that the world has largely adjusted to Covid-secure measures in the supply chain, we should be looking at ways to reduce plastic waste once again.”
International and national policy changes and increased efforts throughout supply chains have driven progress in the UK’s efforts to reduce plastic waste as part of a wider approach to improve sustainability. The 5p charge on carrier bags, for example – which is set to double in April 2021 – has thus far reduced their use by over 80 per cent.
However, with the UK’s ban on single-use plastic items including straws and stirrers now in force (delayed from April 2020 to October 2020), it is vital to prioritise efforts once again.
Companies must “embed sustainability into their operations”
Mr Murray added that his organisation was still observing examples of firms taking steps to reduce their impact through packaging innovation and other measures. “Just this month, Co-op announced it is removing the plastic packaging from its Easter eggs as part of a drive to cut unnecessary plastic from its own-brand ranges,” he told us. “But more still needs to be done by UK businesses to embed sustainability into their operations – and this is the perfect opportunity to refocus their efforts.”
Bureau Veritas has experience and technical expertise in helping some of the world’s largest organisations improve their sustainability performance in a number of sectors including food, pharmaceutical, financial and manufacturing. With a proven track record in verification of environmental, health & safety and social data, including conducting audits against the requirements of ISO 14064 Part 3, Bureau Veritas is also a GRI Community Member, an AA1000AS Licensed Provider and a UKAS accredited ISO 14064-1 Verification Body.