Resource Minister throws weight behind 'Fresher for Longer' initiative
Resource Minister Dan Rogerson has supported the 'Fresher for Longer campaign' and said that packaging has an important part to play in helping to combat food waste.
He was speaking at the first ‘Fresher for Longer’ conference in London, at the Local Government Association’s headquarters, yesterday (5 February). Local government representatives made up a large proportion of the audience but the audience were mainly a mixture of businesses, industry groups and policy makers.
The Fresher for Longer campaign was officially launched last year by WRAP the FDF, the British Retail Consortium, INCPEN, Kent Waste Partnership, the Packaging Federation and Marks & Spencer.
Rogerson said: “Packaging is often seen as a problem but this campaign shows the important role packaging plays to help reduce food waste and to save consumers money
“As consumers we can all pay attention to the storage information on food packaging. This will help us to store the food at home so it keeps fresher for longer. Keeping fruit in its packaging and storing it in the fridge can help keep it fresher for a week or more.”
A study by WRAP shows that just under half of avoidable food and drink waste, worth £5.6bn was classified as ‘not used in time’: thrown away because it had either gone off or passed the date on the packaging. This included large amounts of bread, milk and fresh potatoes. The study also found that consumers are not making best use of the information on pack, or the packaging itself to achieve this, nor are they aware of the benefits that packaging can offer to maximise how long food lasts at home.
Rogerson said only a small percentage of consumers recognise the role that packaging plays in helping to keep food fresher for longer. He acknowledged that the main “aim should be to use the minimum amount of packaging that protects the product from damage and ensures it maintains its quality during shelf life. “
He also said that there had been great packaging innovations to help reduce food waste. For instance, M&S using portion-sized packs for select foods such as meats.
He added: “I would heartily encourage retailers, councils and others to be fully committed in delivering the Fresher For Longer campaign. It is innovative, it seeks to minimise food waste and save both money and valuable resources for consumers, industry and tax payers alike.”
During a panel question and answer session, edie.net asked the panel if the campaign had helped change the public’s negative perceptions on packaging.
Kent Resource Partnership manager Paul Vanston said the campaign was having a positive impact on consumers. He said the Kent Resource Partnership recently linked up with M&S to distribute ‘food waste prevention-magnet wheels’ to a total of 50,000 customers in the Kent area from six M&S’ stores. He explained that getting the message out on food waste prevention had a great impact when initiated through retailers as a starting point, as they have “a greater connection in-store with residents than councils.”
Elsewhere, WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin announced the organisation’s food waste prevention plans for the rest of the year.
She explained: “Last year a recent Love Food Hate Waste campaign run by the London Waste and Recycling Board, GLA, WRAP and the West London Waste Authority helped residents reduce avoidable food waste by 14% in just six months, saving up to £8 for the Authorities for every £1 spent on the campaign. A welcome return on investment in these difficult times.
“Over the next two years, this model will be rolled out by WRAP across ten cities nationwide, creating more opportunities for significant food waste reductions in the UK. We will be talking to local authorities in those areas identified, along with retailers and brands to come together to deliver the campaigns making a real difference to communities and levels of food waste across the country.
“There is more -based on the insights and evidence from the people and products report, we will be revitalising and reinvigorating the campaign and its messages taking Love Food Hate Waste to more people, more often in partnership and collaboration with you.
“Keeping food waste at the heart of the debate is what will continue to do, but it will take collective action to halve avoidable food waste.”