Earlier this year we brought you news of how our members are tackling the packaging and disposable coffee cup culture. Since then, an EU proposal seeking to ban single use plastics has been announced, and the UK government has pledged to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.


Charities, heritage organisations and businesses are increasingly looking for ways to tackle the problem in the here and now, so we organised an event with Carbon Smart to explore opportunities and solutions for our members. Here are some of our sustainably packaged takeaways from the day:


The size of the challenge


On a global scale, 40% of the plastic produced last year was used for packaging, and plastics accounted for 37% of all packaging (with paper and board close behind). The majority of plastic waste- a staggering 79%- goes to landfill or directly into the natural environment.


Finding Opportunities


For many of our members, catering outlets are the biggest culprit when it comes to single use packaging. To find the opportunities for reduction, take stock of the different types of packaging coming in and get a clear picture of what you’re dealing with. Then ask…


  • Could any of this packaging be avoided completely?
  • Could you switch to products with more lightweight packaging?
  • …or buy in bigger quantities to avoid waste?
  • How about switching to re-usable packaging?

Flash Case Study: Since our last article, the National Trust has announced it will phase out selling single use plastics at its places by 2022. This includes replacing all plastic bottles with re-usable glass bottles in the Trust’s sit-down cafes.




Minimising Impact


If there’s no way round the packaging, then that’s not the end of the road. Could you…

  • Opt for packaging that has recycled content?
  • How about packaging that is 100% compostable? There are loads of innovations out there. Who knows, maybe one day soon mushrooms will be the new plastic.
  • If it can’t be composted can it be easily recycled? A single type of packaging with easy to follow recycling instructions will make it less likely that packaging ends up in the general waste.


Communicating with suppliers


Tell them what your priorities and requirements are for procuring sustainable products.  Engaging with suppliers with regards to your sustainable expectations and the information you require to inform your procurement choices, will help to initiate change.


Collaborating to find solutions


Fit for the Future exists to ensure that no one has to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when it comes to finding the most effective and sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. If you aren’t already a member, by joining you could get advice from organisations that are further down the line with reducing packaging, access case studies and resources to help you, and share ideas at dedicated events and meetings like this one. Find out more here.


Members can head to the members’ area for presentations from the Sustainable Procurement event and continue conversation in our online forums.