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November 26, 2019

Alliance with the UK speeds up Chile’s progress towards a circular economy for plastics

• The British Embassy in Chile invited WRAP experts Peter Skelton and Norah Lewis to celebrate their Alliance with the country and to transfer their knowledge. The organization, is successfully implementing the Plastics Pact nationwide (the first pact to be signed worldwide), and has shared its experience and methodology regarding the advancement of its roadmap, which is already underway in Chile.

To strengthen the Alliance of sustainable development between Chile and the United Kingdom, which consists in the circular economy of plastics, the British Embassy invited experts from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), an international organization focused on promoting a more sustainable economy and society. This entity pioneered signing and implementing the first Plastics Pact in the United Kingdom that was aimed at rethinking the future of this material. The initiative is being replicated in Chile, as the first country in Latin America to join the Plastics Pact Global Network, promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Due to the outstanding impact of the UK Plastic Pact, the main goal of WRAP’s Peter Skelton (Strategic Alliances Manager) and Norah Lewis (technical specialist) visit, was a methodological exchange with the 15 companies and organizations involved in the Chilean Plastics Pact, led by the Ministry of the Environment and Fundación Chile.

“We must celebrate the Alliance between the United Kingdom and Chile so we can continue to promote this initiative where collaborative work is essential. There is much we can achieve together on plastic pollution matters; it is very important above all, for future generations,” explains Jamie Bowden, British Ambassador to Chile.

WRAP maximizes the value of waste by increasing the quantity and quality of materials collected to be reused and recycled. The organization has worked in 25 countries since 2010 on circular economy projects. They undersigned the Plastics Pact almost two years ago, they count with over 80 participating companies and with an implementation roadmap that has achieved significant impacts on the ecosystem.

“One of our breakthroughs and main goals is eradicating problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics from the market. Pact members have identified eight items in the supply chain, and are currently working to eliminate them. This will enable the removal of hundreds of millions of these items from the system in the UK towards the end of 2020,” explains Norah Lewis, WRAP technical specialist. 

Wrap operates by connecting governments, businesses, communities, and academia, generating partnerships and building innovative initiatives. As a result of this work, plus the impetus with which the UK has developed legislation on recycling, and civic education, the country has gone from a 4% recycling rate to 48%.

 “We are partnering with Fundación Chile in the context of a very powerful global network since the problems with plastics are similar everywhere. The members of the Pact are grateful that we share our UK experience, given we demonstrate concrete actions that can be implemented in their businesses. Due to the pressure from governments, NGOs, and citizens in general, companies see the Pact as a great vehicle to improve the plastics system as a whole; we are sure that no company can do it alone by itself,” says Peter Skelton, WRAP’s Strategic Alliances Manager.

Guillermo González, Head of the Circular Economy Office at the Ministry of the Environment of Chile, noted that it is essential to learn from WRAP, “Given they were the first organism to sign a Plastics Pact. They have helped us to come through with this initiative, giving it governance, direction, methodology, and concrete ways to attain our goals. The good news is that we already have them, and they are very ambitious; hence the importance of moving forward. I am very expectant of tangible results.

For his part, Andrés Pesce, VP of Business Development and Sustainability at Fundación Chile, says that this visit aims to reinforce the initiative’s global cooperation character, “It is all about bringing collaboration to the next level. Not only among national actors, but also with international experiences such as the one experienced in the United Kingdom. The Plastics Pact Global Network is an example of how organizations set a great common goal above their own particular interests”.

The Chilean Plastics Pact attempts to move from a linear to a circular economy, that through innovation, reuse, and recycling plastics keep circulating in the system without becoming waste. One of its attributes is that it brings together all the actors in the value chain – companies, policy makers, and NGOs. 

Learn more about this initiative here.

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