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The way we recycle and the materials used to package our food has become a hot topic

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The way we recycle and the materials used to package our food has become a hot topic

The way we recycle and the materials used to package our food has become a hot topic

The way we recycle and the materials used to package our food has become a hot topic.

Why are non-recyclable materials and plastic used so much in the food and drink industry?

The primary reasons are that they protect food over long journeys and increase the shelf life. Plastic is strong and clear, which allows consumers to see and examine the food they are buying.

In recent years, there has been a move to use more environmentally friendly and sustainable materials to package our food, including:

  • Coffee shops and cafés introducing re-usable cups to eradicate the single-use plastic beverage cups;
  • Paper straws or metal straws (or in some instances even straws made out of pasta) being now widely used in bars and restaurants; and
  • UK supermarkets rolling-out plastic free fruit and vegetable areas, having their own reuse and refill schemes and removing plastic bags with home delivery orders.

What are the Government’s plans?

In February of this year, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs launched consultations to reform the current waste system and cut unnecessary and un-recyclable packaging. A few of the proposals contained in the consultations included:

  • Packaging producers to pay the full net costs of dealing with their waste;
  • More packing to be designed that is recyclable and see more packaging being recycled;
  • Better labelling on packaging to show whether it can be recycled or not;
  • Simplifying household recycling and improving commercial recycling schemes;
  • Deposit return scheme for cans and bottles; and
  • HM Treasury introducing a new tax which will apply to any plastic packaging that is produced or imported into the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled content.

By reforming the current regulations, the Government hope to design a packaging producer responsibility system that has a positive long term impact that works for everyone and allows the UK to continue to exceed the current EU target to recycle or recover at least 60% of packaging waste.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, or need any advice, please contact Daisy Divoka or give us a call on 0345 070 6000.

Alternatively, click here to find out what our Food & Drink team can help you with.

This article was prepared by Hannah Morris