Petition Ban the use of all non-recyclable and unsustainable food packaging

Today the Earth is at a crisis point due to our plastic consumption, and as a result, people in the UK are more willing than ever to engage in recycling. Yet so much food packaging remains completely, frustratingly unrecyclable. Let's aim for the UK to lead the world with a 100% recycling rate.

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Every day we send to landfill, to decompose over thousands of years:
Cereal box inner bags
Peel-off film (fruit and veg punnets/ready meals/yoghurt pots)
Almost all plastic supermarket fruit and veg packets
Crisp packets
Sweets wrappers
Chocolate bar wrappers
Styrofoam
Vacuum pack plastic
-to name a few
The British public WANTS to recycle but we can't get away from the vast amounts of waste that poorly designed packaging creates- appoint people to design alternatives and the UK will thank you!

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Government responded

This response was given on 2 April 2019

Our Strategy sets out plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste. We are consulting on proposals to incentivise producers to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of their packaging.

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The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England published in December last year sets out our plans to reduce plastic pollution and move towards a more circular economy. This builds on the commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. For the most problematic plastics we are going faster, which is why we commit to work towards all plastic packaging placed on the UK market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

Our priority is to prevent or reduce waste in the first place. The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations already require businesses to ensure that all their packaging does not exceed what is needed to make sure that the products are safe, hygienic and acceptable for both the packed product and for the consumer. As part of the Resources and Waste Strategy, we have committed to review the effectiveness of these Regulations by the end of next year. These Regulations apply to those responsible for the packing or filling of products into packaging and those importing packed or filled packaging into the UK from elsewhere.

On 18 February, the Government launched several consultations to overhaul the waste system. This includes proposals to reform packaging waste regulations to financially incentivise packaging producers to take greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products. We are also consulting on introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and increasing consistency in recycling collections. We are also consulting on introducing a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content. More information and the opportunity to respond can be found online at: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/environmental-quality/resource-and-waste-and-plastic-packaging-tax-consu-1

The reforms to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations will require producers to fund the full net-cost of managing the packaging they place on the market, once it becomes waste. This creates an incentive for companies to use less packaging and to ensure that their packaging can be recycled at end of life as it will reduce their costs in complying with the Regulations. We will also ensure that producer fees fund a move to a system where a nationally agreed set of packaging materials are collected and where it is easier for consumers to know what packaging they can recycle, through improved communication campaigns and packaging labelling.

We have set out in our consultation options for how we want to enhance the incentive for producers to make better packaging design choices. The options are for a modulated fee system or a deposit fee system. These options provide a financial incentive for producers, in addition to the full-net cost fees, to move towards using more easily recycled packaging materials and formats. To support this we want to introduce an “approved list”. This list will set out what packaging materials are recyclable.

Biodegradable materials that degrade fully without causing harm in the natural environment or creating issues with the reprocessing industry would clearly be desirable. Biodegradable materials must, however, be disposed of properly if the benefits of such technologies are to be fully realised. If biodegradable material is put in the domestic waste bin, for example, it is likely to end up in landfill and break down to release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. To consider impacts carefully, as part of the Government’s Bioeconomy Strategy, we will work with UK Research and Innovation and industry to seek evidence on the demand, benefits and implications of a standard for bio-based and biodegradable plastics a call for evidence later this year.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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