In responding to the Scottish Executive’s strategy to tackle and prevent litter and fly-tipping,
Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) chairman Neil Whittall was quick to defend the amount of packaging generated within the hospitality sector.

“Foodservice packaging is vital to today’s consumer lifestyle and plays a positive role in the economy,” he argued.

“It now plays a more important role than ever, especially in extending shelf life and in ensuring food is protected and fresh. The role of foodservice packaging in portion control is also vital through reducing food waste.”

Furthermore Whittall said this had been recognised by WRAP under its hospitality and foodservice voluntary agreement – and what really needed to be addressed was irresponsible behaviour around packaging.

“At the end of the day packaging does not jump out of your hands, it is in the wrong place through people’s action,” he maintained.

The FPA believe the approach taken by Scotland will examine the root causes of the problem of packaging waste, with information, infrastructure and enforcement being the key messages.

“We hope to see a balanced and innovative approach to improving the infrastructure,” Whittall said.

“At the end of its life, packaging is a valuable resource which, with more work, can be recycled and the material value extracted – this is just one area which has not really been fully investigated.”

The FPA claims that packaging producers have long been ensuring their products are optimised for weight and purpose and that the materials used are from the best possible sources.

However Zero Waste Scotland director Iain Gulland argued that business still has a significant role to play in looking at how they can reduce the risk of their products and packaging ending up as litter, and motivating positive behaviour from customers.

“We are looking to partners to support us in these aims, especially the grocery brands, retailers and food outlets we already work with,” he said.

Research published earlier this year from WRAP into consumer attitudes to food packaging showed a need for greater education among consumers on the role packaging can play to reduce food waste.

WRAP is urging food retailers and manufacturers to raise awareness with consumers about the existing innovations in packaging, food labelling, and design and how to keep food fresher for longer.

Maxine Perella

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