NEWS & INSIGHT FROM THE FPA
We took part in the first meeting of the City To Sea Reusables Action Group. Participants include two of the leading coffee operators, a number of reusable cup schemes and research and environmental representatives from two of the devolved nations. The objective is to understand and review the science surrounding food hygiene and the use of reusables with a view to operators accepting them again.
The meeting was held under Chatham House rules but we can safely reveal the overall desire of participants is to bring back reusables as soon as possible and while the meeting agreed it should be as objective as possible, it was clear that there are some for whom the science is getting in the way – to quote “We don’t want to see coronavirus used as an excuse for not using reusables”, “disappointed with moving back to disposables”. As reported last week we must be guided by the hygiene experts and seek a procedure to eliminate risk beyond the often quoted ‘virtually no risk’ and give operators the confidence to use them.
In the interim the highly regarded USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued some excellent clear guidance for foodservice operators which as last updated on 27 May, read here.
The advice includes the following:
- Avoid use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers
- Use disposable food service items such as utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths
- Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers
We strongly recommend passing this link on to your customers.
There was some feeling among group members and others that the Defra advice on reusables needs to be more specific. Currently it states: ‘It is up to the individual business to decide whether they allow the use of reusable cups or containers during this period’. We have accordingly asked Defra to deal with the issue as a matter of urgency and provide more detailed advice in time for the reopening of the hospitality sector.
KBT LITTER SURVEY
Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) published its national litter survey in partnership with Defra. The survey tracks both volume and item count, the former was confirmed at our virtual meeting with Defra this week as the basis upon which the cost of ‘litter disamenity’ will be calculated as part of the Extended Producer Responsibility system to be introduced in 2023. The conversion from count to volume in the report gives coffee cups the same volume as, for example, a large glass bottle of wine. Of course cups can be flattened taking less volume, but glass bottles less so. This will also apply to other foodservice packaging and the calculation basis must be challenged. Link to survey report is here.
Cigarette stubs account for 66% of litter by count and smoking packaging 2%, whereas what is described as ‘fast food – inner packaging’ accounts for 0.8%. As a consequence of the volume calculation, which puts coffee cups up to 7.8%, KBT is calling for a charge on paper cups. Press release here.
If charged, then cups fall out of EPR and charging will not result in more recycling as schemes may be inclined to be closed by their funders. KBT would have to be correct in its prediction that coffee cup consumption would fall by 90%, if not then it might find no change in the number of littered cups and a much reduced coffee shop sector.
KBT calls for cigarettes to be included in a EPR system. We first called for this three years ago along with Clean Up Britain, so there is one issue on which we agree
Martin attended a meeting of the British Takeaway Campaign last week. It is very sobering listening to reports from restaurant owners that the various schemes have enabled them to just about stay in business but they have no funds to enable them to reopen. They have no working capital to pay their current creditors and of course that presents difficulties getting credit required for future deliveries. Added to this is the cost of PPE. While we look forward to 4 July, the government and local authorities should not delude themselves into believing operators can reopen without further support.
As a result the BTC is calling for VAT to be suspended until the sector is back on its feet, business rates suspended until well into 2021 and NIC suspended. In addition local authorities must exercise flexibility with regard to pavement space and operating hours, though obviously taking local resident welfare into account.
The Broadgate Estate (owning properties around the Liverpool Street area) estimates just 13% of office workers will return to their offices by 30 July rising to a maximum of 25% by September. This clearly has a huge impact on lunchtime/daytime custom. There is no clear way out of this and there is talk of some operators not reopening this year with many believing business as usual will be March 2021 at the earliest. It was also reported that many restaurants and pubs have still not received local authority grants.
No doubt media will celebrate the reopening of hospitality, but this is just one step in a very long journey to normality. FPA customers and their supply chains will still need support.
FDF EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS
This important Food and Drink Federation round table brings the food, retail, packaging and hospitality trade associations together. The key message is that the furlough scheme needs to continue and the FDF is campaigning for the hospitality supply chain to receive exemption from further furlough changes.
We made the key point that the scheme could be needed well into 2021 and without it a proportion of those on furlough become unemployed. We also agreed with the British Beer and Pub Association that menus will be limited as a consequence of meeting the likely CIVID-19 guidelines. The BBPA also highlighted how disposables will be used to meet safety requirements. Hospitality COVID-19 guidelines are expected to be published next week and the delay in publishing is thought to be related to discussions on relaxing the 2m rule.
The MAC (Migration Advisory Council) Shortage Occupation List consultation was also discussed. Our BTC meeting yesterday agreed in its submission to the consultation that there should no cap requirement on chefs’ salaries.
NEXT WEBINAR 18 JUNE
The next FPA webinar takes place on Thursday 18 June 3.30-4.30pm. The agenda will mirror that which normally follows the meeting that takes place after our annual Golf Day (planned pre-lockdown to have taken place next week). The meeting is a chance to hear first-hand the work of our Committees and their hard working members, a financial update and Chairman Mark Pawsey’s vision for the future. In just one hour you will be fully updated on all matters FPA, including all the environmental issues you face and for Golf Day regulars you will hear the information minus the post golf hangover.
As with previous webinars, you are encouraged to send in questions in advance by emailing Lisa. Registration details will be emailed on Monday.
Exceptions to 14 day quarantine: workers entering the UK with specialist technical skills for essential or emergency works or services (including commissioning, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks) to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods do not have to quarantine. The individual has to complete a ‘Public Health Passenger Locator Form’ (link here) before arrival.
BRCGS update on post lockdown audits: BRCGS has published a new Position Statement about onsite BRCGS audits post COVID lockdown. The new arrangements outlined in the document which are designed to mitigate potential resource issues, will apply until at least January 2021. Read here.
HMRC has issued a questionnaire regarding the the changes due to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol for businesses who move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. More here.
CORONAVIRUS RELATED NEWS
Packaging Digest reports that pandemic driven wariness is driving food brand owners and their packaging suppliers, as well as retailers and foodservice providers, to put more emphasis on hygienic packaging. Read here.
Resource Magazine reports on the letter, signed by the FPA, calling on the Environment Secretary to ban single use plastic products made from oxodegradable plastic in line with the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive. Read here.
Packaging Europe reports that the Brussels-based RecyClass initiative has unveiled a new Recyclability Methodology to give insights into the methods used to assess and certify the recyclability of plastic packaging. Read here.
Edie reports that a new report from the Food and Drink Foundation reveals that the industry will require further action and ambition from government if it is to align with the national net-zero goal by 2050. Read here.