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FPC supports the ambition to create a circular economy for packaging and encourages the UK Government to develop a system which truly engages all partners, including UK and devolved governments, local authorities, packaging manufacturers, processors and recyclers, packaging users and citizens.
Any new system must recognise the inter-dependency of all elements of the system: from the provision of greater capacity for reprocessing; efficient and cost-effective collection and recovery; innovations in packaging materials; greater encouragement of recycling by citizens.
Sufficient time is required to enable packaging manufacturers to develop products that meet recycling challenges and to ensure that packaging maintains and enhances the integrity of fresh produce. Significant investment in recycling facilities by local authorities and waste contractors to cope with a wider range of materials is a pre-requisite to enabling businesses to meet targets within proposed timescales.
Reduced through put with recycled materials
The UK fresh produce industry endeavours to switch to using recycled materials where possible. However, this can bring challenges, for example, to production lines by reducing through-put by around 15% in some cases when using recycled films, or requiring significant investment in new machines capable of handling recycled materials.
Often the types of packaging materials used in the fresh produce supply chain are dictated by the retail customer or brand holder and the supplier cannot make changes to specifications.
Where possible the fresh produce industry strives to reduce the use of ‘unnecessary’ packaging and introduce innovations in packaging. However, the UK fresh produce industry has a responsibility to maintain the integrity and safety of its products and this cannot be compromised by changes in packaging. Appropriate packaging can play an essential role for highly perishable products, maintaining good hygiene and maximising shelf-life, and reducing food waste. Any Impact Assessment of these proposals should include consideration of food safety and food waste.
In May 2019 FPC participated in the UK Government’s consultations on: reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system; consistency in household and business recycling collections in England; and the proposed introduction of a plastic packaging tax. You can find a summary of our response to the consultation here.
The UK Government announced in its Budget 2020 that the Plastic Packaging Tax will be charged at a rate of £200 per tonne where less than 30% recycled plastic is used in packaging. The government intends to introduce this new tax from April 2022.