Plastic packaging ban ‘could result in more food waste’

Michelle Carvell

A ban on plastics packaging could result in more – not less – food waste. That’s the view of Michelle Carvell, COO at Lorax Compliance.

She is urging ministers to “reconsider” the effect a potential ban on single-use plastics could have on the national food waste crisis.

“We are delighted, as environmental and packaging compliance experts, to see retailers pledge their support to sustainable solutions,” Michelle said. “However, we believe that the carbon cycle should be considered as part of the Government’s consultation.

“Eliminating single-use plastic altogether from fresh produce is challenging for a number of reasons. Firstly, plastic’s role in the food production process substantially reduces food waste levels by increasing the lifespan of perishable goods across the supply chain. Plastic vacuum packaging not only prevents the discolouration of meat products, but also extends its lifetime by up to ten times that of meat wrapped in paper, which cannot be used to seal food in the same way. Removing plastic from manufacturing, a material which ensures food remains edible for a longer period of time, would create a huge amount of wastage within food production carbon cycles.

“Secondly, packaging’s relationship with food is a long-established marketing marriage which is integral to enhancing a product’s appeal at the point of sale. This will not be easily undone in the mind of the consumer. Would you buy a ready meal if you couldn’t see what it looked like? It’s unlikely. It is clear that some element of plastic must remain either as a window or a lid to ensure consumer trust at the point of purchase.

“We urge the Government to review the full circularity of plastic’s role in the food supply chain as part of its forthcoming consultation and to involve food manufacturers and producers as part of its review, in order to minimise both the future wastage and costs of perishable goods.”