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Packaging: Waste Disposal

Volume 459: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what work he is undertaking with (a) food processing companies, (b) supermarkets and (c) confectionery manufacturers to reduce packaging waste. (134178)

We have already introduced two sets of regulations to encourage producers (including retailers) to minimise, recycle and recover packaging and reduce packaging waste.

The Packaging Regulations have helped to reduce the amount of packaging used around products. However, more still needs to be done to reduce the amount of packaging and packaging waste being generated in the first place. We have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to work with industry to find solutions to this problem and recommend ways of encouraging businesses to further reduce the amount of packaging they use.

My Department continues to engage with retailers and the food industry to reduce the amount of food and packaging waste generated by the industry itself and by consumers.

In particular, DEFRA’s Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), published in April 2006, 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) have also signed up to the “Courtauld Commitment”, agreeing to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in order to:

(i) design out packaging waste growth by 2008;

(ii) deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010; and

(iii) identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.

Each retailer signed up to the Commitment has been developing its own programme of work with WRAP to reduce packaging and packaging waste. A number of retailers have now announced their own specific performance targets on waste and other environmental issues.

In addition, several food and drink brands and manufacturers, including some confectionary manufacturers, have now signed up to the Courtauld Commitment. WRAP will shortly be announcing further details.

WRAP also provides technical and financial support to retailers and suppliers through an innovation fund. 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.

Importantly, DEFRA, working with WRAP and the devolved administrations, has recently secured the agreement of UK retailers to reduce the overall environmental impact of their carrier bags by 25 per cent. by the end of 2008.