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Waste Management

Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution to waste streams of shelf-ready packaging; and what discussions he has had with retailers about shelf-ready packaging. (108651)

We have not made any formal assessment of the contribution to waste streams of shelf-ready packaging. Potentially, it could help to reduce external in-transit packaging. But it could also affect the type or amount of materials used to package individual products.

We are continuing to engage with retailers and the food industry to reduce the amount of food and packaging waste which is being generated—by the industry itself, as well as consumers. For example, DEFRA’s Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), published in April this year, challenges the food manufacturing sector to reduce its own waste by 15-20 per cent. by 2010.

13 major grocery retailers (representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector) are also supporting the “Courtauld Commitment”. This means that they have agreed to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in order to: design out packaging waste growth by 2008; deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010; and identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.

WRAP works closely with the major supermarket chains to achieve the necessary behavioural changes. Three roundtable meetings have taken place to discuss food waste, putting recycling information on package labelling, and the issues and opportunities associated with biodegradable packaging. Through an Innovation Fund, WRAP also provides technical and financial support to retailers and suppliers. This is helping to identify ways of reducing the weight of primary packaging and the cost of production and transportation—mainly through research and development and innovative packaging design.