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Responsible plastics a ‘key consumer trend’

More consumers are seeking out packaging made from recycled plastics as awareness of marine pollution rises, according to Mintel.

“Whilst plastics won’t be wholly demonised, intensified eco-lobbying will produce more recyclable products, as well as incentives and initiatives to encourage sustainable behaviour,” the analysts predicted.

This may well lead to “social stigmatisation” of plastic cups and cling film, said the firm’s senior trends consultant, Richard Cope. Some retailers could even dispense with plastics altogether, he added.

Andy Clarke, the former CEO of Asda, recently called for supermarkets to stop using plastic packaging and create plastic-free aisles to showcase alternatives.

“Regardless of how much is invested in Britain’s recycling infrastructure, virtually all plastic packaging will reach landfill or the bottom of the ocean sooner or later,” he told the Guardian.

Clarke, who led Asda for six years, called for a more radical approach from supermarkets and the packaging industry in order to “turn off the tap”.

Billions of pounds have been spent trying to increase the amount of plastic collected and recycled, but they haven’t worked, said Clarke.

“Despite more than a decade of concerted supermarket action on this issue, globally we are still dumping in excess of eight million tonnes of plastic in the ocean each year,” said Clarke.

Environment secretary Michael Gove appears keen to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastics bottles, which supporters say will increase recycling rates.

Currently, 59% of plastic bottles are recycled, but “evidence from other countries, including the US, Norway and Germany, shows that the introduction of a simple deposit on plastic bottles and cans can raise collection rates above 90% and reduce littering”, said Keep Britain Tidy last week.

 KBT also published research showing that a DRS could save councils £35 million.