Fundamental shift away from single use packaging necessary

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has urged the government to change its focus from just plastic to reducing all single use packaging.

The committee’s latest report on plastic food and drink packaging has recommended that the government should conduct a review of reusable and refillable packaging systems to determine what works and where government intervention might be appropriate.

In addition to this, MPs urge that Parliament should lead by example, with the ambition to remove single use packaging from all its catering facilities. The committee has called for a modulated plastic packaging tax, with lower fees for higher levels of recycled content.

MPs have also supported current government proposals to improve the recycling rate with extended producer responsibility, a Deposit Return Scheme and consistency in recycling collections.

Neil Parish, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: "We all know that plastic pollution of our rivers and seas is a huge problem. However, replacing plastic with other materials isn’t always the best solution, as all materials have an environmental impact.

"My Committee is also concerned that compostable plastics have been introduced without the right infrastructure or consumer understanding about how to dispose of them. Fundamentally, substitution is not the answer, and we need to look at ways to cut down on single use packaging. Currently, packaging labelling can be confusing, unclear, or even misleading. Ensuring that all local authorities collect the same plastics for recycling will make it easier for packaging to be labelled, so consumers know whether that packaging is recyclable or not."

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