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Fundamental shift away from single use packaging necessary, say MPs

12 September 2019

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has today called for the government to focus on reducing all single use packaging – not just plastic – in its latest report on Plastic food and drink packaging.

Reusable and refillable packaging systems should be reviewed

The Committee, which looked specifically at food and drink packaging, has recommended that the Government should conduct a review of reusable and refillable packaging systems to determine what works and where Government intervention might be appropriate.

In addition, Parliament should lead by example, with the ambition to remove single use packaging from all its catering facilities.

The Committee also supported Government proposals to improve the recycling rate with extended producer responsibility, a Deposit Return Scheme and consistency in recycling collections.

The Committee has called for a modulated plastic packaging tax, with lower fees for higher levels of recycled content. Furthermore, imported, filled packaging should not be exempt from the tax as this could damage UK manufacturing.

Chair's comments

Neil Parish MP, the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said:

"We all know that plastic pollution of our rivers and seas is a huge problem. However, replacing plastic with other materials isn't always the best solution, as all materials have an environmental impact.

"My Committee is also concerned that compostable plastics have been introduced without the right infrastructure or consumer understanding about how to dispose of them. Fundamentally, substitution is not the answer, and we need to look at ways to cut down on single use packaging.

"Currently, packaging labelling can be confusing, unclear, or even misleading. Ensuring that all local authorities collect the same plastics for recycling will make it easier for packaging to be labelled, so consumers know whether that packaging is recyclable or not."

Further information

Image: Public Domain