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Campaigners against single-use plastics are turning their attention to sachets used for food and other liquids, calling for UK and EU lawmakers to implement an all-out ban.

An open letter, signed by nearly 50 heads of business, politicians and campaigners, cites research showing that 855 billion sachets are used globally each year, enough to cover the Earth’s surface. The letter states that the world is on track to use one trillion plastic sachets annually by 2030, unless “urgent action” is taken.

Supported by campaigners including environmentalist Johathan Porritt, Princess Esmeralda of Belgium and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean Peter Thomson, the letter signals the launch of Sack the Sachet – a global initiative headed up by environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet. The letter has also been signed by a cross-party group of 27 MPs and peers.

Plastic composite sachets are used worldwide to package a wide range of food stuffs and products, including ketchup, milk, face wipes and moisturiser.

While a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds will come into force in the UK in April, the Environment Bill 2019-2020 – which gets its Second Reading in Parliament today – omits the regulation of sachets. They are also not covered by the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive, which is set to outlaw a host of throwaway items by 2021.

Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “In recent years, governments and business have gone all out to enforce a ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and even bags.

“And yet the plastic sachet, the ultimate symbol of our grab and go, convenience-addicted lifestyle, has been virtually invisible to all. The result? Our earth is saturated with these uncollectable, unrecyclable, contaminated, valueless little packets.”

She adds: “It’s time to close the legal loophole. Now more than ever before we have to Sack The Sachet.”

If a year's worth of sachets were placed in a line, they would cover 72 million kilometres – the same distance as almost 190 missions to the moon, according to the letter.

The figures cited in the letter are based on research conducted by Future Market Insights, which examined projections for the sachet packaging market from 2019 to 2027.

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