Plastics: Packaging

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to help reduce plastic packaging in supermarkets.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is currently working with retailers and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to encourage their efforts to reduce waste and to explore the introduction of plastic-free supermarket initiatives in which fresh food is sold loose, giving consumers the choice.

The government recently consulted on reforms to the packaging producer responsibility system to ensure that packaging producers meet the full cost of managing and recycling packaging waste. This provides a strong incentive to producers to reduce the amount of packaging they use and to make packaging that is more easily collected and recycled. Plastic food packaging serves important purposes such as protecting food, providing important storage information, extending the shelf life and decreasing food waste.

However there are opportunities where offering food loose may help to reduce plastic waste whilst not impacting on shelf life. WRAP have published a technical report on the evidence for providing fresh produce loose and this will inform future guidance. And industry is already taking action. In April last year, WRAP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched their world-leading UK Plastics Pact, with support from the Government, and all the major supermarkets have signed up to it. The Pact brings these organisations together with four key targets for 2025 that aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. Which include action to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging items. Our proposed reforms will support supermarkets in achieving those targets.

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