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Reducing food packaging will not solve waste problem

Reducing food packaging will not solve the problems of diverting waste from landfill, says a Department for Education, and Rural Affairs (Defra) official. The issue of food packaging has become a hot topic as of late, as major supermarkets have pledged to reduce packaging, although many consumers and critics believe that more can be done. Speaking at a food waste conference held at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), Defras head of sustainable development Bronwen Jones said that there were genuine conflicts with tackling food packaging and diverting it from landfill. She said: Food packaging gets consumers very wound up and even ministers get wound up. Yet, food packaging developments have delivered to us fantastic choice, quality, freshness, and safety of food in the last 20 years. And actually that is what it is there for and if you reduce this you will find that some of those issues create problems elsewhere. In particular, waste and spoilage of food and that is the conflict that the public does not see but that we really need to grapple with. Critics such as the Womens Institute have recently challenged supermarkets to cut down on their food packaging and claim that wrapping up fruits and vegetables are unnecessary. In relating the links between food waste and packaging, Jones said: The complexity is on who really has the power here? Retailers are key influencers but they claim that they are just driven by what consumers want. Consumers often claim that their behaviour is unduly influenced by retailers and they are reluctant to act without Government taking the first step and taking the lead. Government wants to be responsive to people but does not want to be accused of being a nanny state. There is a real tension between the three way relationship; the reality is that all these actors have some type of leadership role to play.

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