Skip to main content


Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the effect on levels of disposed packaging of people purchasing unpackaged food from local street markets; (111764)

(2) what steps he is taking to promote the sale of fruit and vegetables in loose rather than pre-packaged form;

(3) what the contribution to landfill is of (a) all food packaging and (b) packaging materials for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Food-related packaging makes up an estimated 18 per cent. of household waste and around 3.3 per cent. of the controlled waste which is sent to landfill1. No estimate is currently available of the proportion of landfilled packaging waste which relates to fresh fruit and vegetable sales.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme is currently working with all leading supermarkets through the Courtauld commitment to achieve a standstill, and then a reduction, in the amount of packaging waste. A number of retailers are considering the role that the selling of loose fruit and vegetables could make to those objectives without increasing the amount of damaged produce which is then discarded. The current situation is unsatisfactory and I urge retailers to address this issue quickly.

In general, street market sales of fruit and vegetables are less highly packaged but no estimate is available of the savings to landfill which might result from an increased use of street markets.

1 Figures are based on estimates of waste composition contained in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit 2002 report, Waste Not Want Not, and information from WasteDataFlow for 2005-06.