The South African Plastics Pact has published its first list of ‘problematic or unnecessary’ plastics, which it will phase out in 2021 and 2022.
The pact is an initiative that includes stakeholders from the local plastics value chain, including businesses, the government and non-governmental organisations. Some key members include Coca-Cola, Spur, Pick n Pay, the SPAR Group, and Woolworths.
The group defines ‘unnecessary plastics’ as plastic Items that can be avoided or replaced by a reuse model while maintaining utility. These plastics have limited social utility, for which no alternative is required and can be phased out without significant behavioural or infrastructural change.
It also defines ‘problematic plastic’ as having the following characteristics:
- Those plastics that are not reusable, recyclable (technically and/or economically not recyclable) or compostable;
- Those plastics that contain, or which manufacturing process requires, hazardous chemicals that pose a significant risk to human health or the environment;
- Those plastics which hinder or disrupt the recyclability or compostability of other items;
- Those plastics for which there is a high likelihood of being littered or ending up in the natural environment
Plastics to be phased out
The first group of plastics that members have pledged to phase out in 2021 and 2022 include:
- Oxo-degradable plastics
- PVC bottles, pallet wrap, and labels
- PVC or PET shrink sleeves on PET bottles
- Plastic stickers on fruit and vegetables
- Thin barrier bags for fruit and vegetables
- Thin barrier bags used at tills
- Plastic straws
- Plastic stirrers
- Single-use plastic cutlery, plates and bowls
- Cotton buds with plastic stems
- Plastic lollipop sticks
- Plastic microbeads in cosmetics
“The publication of this list of problematic and unnecessary plastics is a significant moment for the South Africa Plastics Pact,” said David Rogers, head of international programmes at non-profit group WRAP.
“It shows what can be achieved through the focused collaborative action fostered by plastics pacts.”
Rogers cited the UK, where plastics pact members have made significant progress towards eliminating our initial target list of eight problematic and unnecessary items, seeing a 40% reduction in these plastics since 2018.
The group said that the second list of plastics that will be phased out is set to be published in due course.