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Packaging can play its part in reducing waste

As a national member organisation bringing together manufacturers, distributors and buyers of packaging, the Food Packaging Association (FPA) works with WRAP and other bodies to ensure the industry plays its part in waste resource management and recovery. We also promote understanding of the benefits of foodservice packaging - including convenience, food safety and reducing food waste.

Speaking at the association’s annual environmentFoodservice conference, chairman Neil Whittall said: “The FPA fully supports the work of WRAP and the Hospitality and Food Service Voluntary Agreement and holds a place on the steering committee. 

“We are working hard with various bodies to address the issues of lack of national standard waste recovery infrastructure and the lack of facilities available out of the home, such as recycling on the go.”

Improving the national waste recovery infrastructure and having a consistent approach in all local authority areas is one of the key areas where the FPA considers significant progress can be made in post-consumer recovery.

The keynote speaker at the Warwick conference, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh, announced that a future Labour government would commit to a policy of zero food waste.

“One of the things we are looking at is having a ban on food waste to landfill. It is undefendable that food is wasted and goes to landfill, where it then gives off harmful gases,” she said. “The cost involved for businesses is simply not good enough; we want to see a revolution in the way in which people look at food.”

In addition, she announced that as part of a policy paper to be launched in February, the Labour Party may consider creating an Office for Resource Security. This cross-departmental office would offer one point of contact for packaging industry lobbyists, such as the FPA.

Such an approach would potentially help with the issues found by packaging manufacturers where different departments have different requirements regarding waste. It could also help with clearer understanding between all players in the packaging food chain from suppliers to retailers. The policy review is to be led by Labour front-bencher Gavin Shuker.

Mark Pawsey, Conservative MP for Rugby, was a panel contributor at the FPA conference. He said improved communications would help further understanding of waste as a valuable resource.

The conference heard how investment was being made in the recovery infrastructure with new facilities for processing waste under consideration. 

Both Creagh and Pawsey were keen to emphasize the benefits of keeping waste in the UK that was previously exported and that the sector has the opportunity to create valuable markets and jobs.

Aside from processing the final waste products themselves and managing packaging waste, the FPA also sees innovations in packaging design, material choices and material reduction as being another way to reduce actual food waste in terms of storage and shelf life. 

In fact the packaging industry has been urged to do more to promote the initiatives being worked on by its members and others.

Bob Lisney, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Packaging, which advises the government on packaging waste policy, said at the FPA conference: “The benefits of packaging need to be presented to consumers right the way through the supply chain because there is a lot of working going on between businesses to promote the advantages of products, but we would like to see more external communication showing how good these products are.”

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