Single-use plastic bottles in a recycling box.

2022: A Look Back on Plastics

After another tumultuous year, we reflect on the key developments made around single-use plastic in 2022 and how we hope to build on these going into 2023.

At the start of 2022 many expected a return to some form of normality, after two years dominated by Covid-19 restrictions. Instead, this year the world has been shaken by international economic crisis and escalating geopolitical tensions and conflict. The UK itself has also been reeling from recession, a deepening cost of living and energy crisis, three consecutive Prime Ministers and the passing of the Queen.

Whilst these events put the climate crisis on the back burner, COP27 provided a chance to refocus international attention on the environment. Top of the agenda in Egypt was climate finance, with developing nations calling for support to mitigate the effects of climate change, in the face of rising sea levels, global warming and intensification of natural disasters worldwide. To the disappointment of many campaigners, no significant progress was made on plastic pollution.

Tractor collecting waste.

UN plastics treaty

Despite this, there were reasons to be positive. Earlier this year UN member nations adopted a resolution titled ‘End Plastic Pollution: Towards an international legally binding instrument’ and on 2 March, we saw the establishment of the landmark UN plastics treaty. This historic move paves the way towards an international agreement addressing the mounting single-use plastic problem. At home, the UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax came into effect on the 22nd April, meaning that if companies manufacture or import 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging, they’re required to pay a tax, in the hope of cutting plastic waste.

Dougie Poynter and school pupils holding The Whale Watchers book.

The Whale Watchers Campaign

For BRITA, 2022 brought a number of highlights, including the highly successful Whale Watchers campaign. In partnership with our partner, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we created a children’s book authored by Dougie Poynter, as well as educational resources, which aim to educate pupils on the important role whales play in our fight against climate change and how we can help protect them by reducing single-use plastic. Following the book’s launch, BRITA ran a school competition, asking pupils across the country to help design BRITA recycling bins, with the chance to win £3,000 to spend on a sustainability initiative of their choice.

Restaurant setting with a Chef

The Invisible Waste Campaign

2022 also witnessed BRITA’s new Invisible Waste campaign, to help businesses uncover how much energy and money is being potentially wasted by negligent equipment usage. The report released provided companies across BRITA’s key sectors – corporate, hospitality and healthcare, with actionable insights and tips to help streamline the process to better sustainability across the board. In 2023, BRITA takes this a step further to reveal the hidden plastic waste bubbling beneath the surface of businesses and identify where the pain points still exist.

Person poring food into a reusable container.

Unwrapping Reuse Culture

In November, BRITA also released a white paper highlighting the importance of shifting towards a culture of reuse, in order to stop the plastic pollution crisis. The white paper, Unwrapping Reuse Culture, suggested that not only would reuse bring environmental benefits, but it could also help to boost the economy. Following the launch, it garnered support by NGO’s calling for action on plastic waste.

Recycling symbol

Our commitment

Going into 2023, BRITA is dedicated to encouraging a serious shift towards reuse, as one of the best ways to fight the plastic pollution crisis. The focus on plastics hasn’t gone away and will continue to be on the agenda, so businesses and the government must act to put the environment first. Following revelations of the low levels of recycling in the UK thanks to a study by Greenpeace, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that we don’t rely solely on recycling, and instead find ways to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place. At BRITA, we know we still have a lot to do. We remain committed to investing in product and packaging innovations to reduce our environmental impact and working closely with our charity partners, such as Whale and Dolphin Conservation, to combat sustainability challenges more broadly.   

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