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FPA Calls for Foodservice Exemption

Legislation for a 5p levy on plastic shopping bags in England was announced in the Queen’s speech yesterday (4 June) and is due to come into effect in the autumn of 2015.

Statement from Martin Kersh, Executive Director, The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA)

Legislation for a 5p levy on plastic shopping bags in England was announced in the Queen’s speech yesterday (4 June) and is due to come into effect in the autumn of 2015.

Background

The legislation, which is to be introduced in the belief it will reduce litter and protect the environment, was announced at the 2013 Liberal Democrat conference, follows legislation in Wales, where there has been a minimum charge of 5p on all single use carrier bags since 1 October 2011. Northern Ireland followed in 2013 but with an exemption for hot takeaway food.

The introduction of a bag charge has been approved by the Scottish Parliament and will bring in mandatory charging for almost all single-use carrier bags from October.

The legislation for England specifically targets plastic carrier bags with exemptions for smaller businesses and a proposed exemption for an, as yet to be developed, UK produced, ‘genuinely’ biodegradable plastic bag to which DEFRA has committed considerable research funding.

FPA Raises Public Health Concerns and Renews call for Foodservice Exemption

Martin Kersh said: "With the announcement that legislation for a mandatory bag charge is to be introduced in the last Parliament of this Government, the FPA has renewed its concerns about the proposal given the perception of plastic bags contribution to litter, upon which the introduction of the levy is based, is very much at odds with published litter content data. We are also renewing our call for a foodservice sector exemption to ensure the health of the public is fully protected.

"We fell the inclusion of the proposed compulsory charge on plastic bags in the Queen’s Speech, while expected, is nonetheless disappointing.

 

"The Foodservice Packaging Association has lobbied the Minister, Dan Rogerson, for an exemption for bags, irrespective of material used, by the takeaway sector to contain partially wrapped ready to eat foodservice items, in order to protect the public’s health. There is much evidence to prove that the reuse of a bag for ready to eat food raises the risk of bacterial contamination with pathogens multiplying and so endangering public health. We will continue to campaign for this exemption as the protection of the public’s health is our top priority.

"The contribution of plastic bags to the UK’s litter problem is negligible and while we support initiatives to reduce litter, such initiatives must be directed towards changing public behaviour, ensuring enforcement and improved collection and more opportunities to dispose of used food packaging correctly on the go. The danger of this bag charge is that it sets a precedent for charges on other forms of packaging in the name of litter again based on perception rather than fact. Material choice must also be left in the hands of specifiers and not determined by legislation.

"Together with the PAFA, Confederation of Paper Industries, British Plastics Federation and Packaging Federation we have lobbied the Minister, Dan Rogerson particularly with regard to the departure from single market principles, ensuring fair competition and the potential to disrupt future recycling streams with the possibility of a future exemption for biodegradable plastic bags. We will continue to work together to protect these principles."

 

Ends

Issued on behalf of the FPA by Leapfrog PR. Editorial contact is Felicity Read on 01242 282000 or email felicity@leapfropgpr.com