The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) has strongly rejected calls by a group of chefs to ban polystyrene packaging, and has reiterated that the material is 100% food safe, is resource-efficient and has excellent functionality.


The FPA, which represents the views of more than 200 manufacturers, distributors and users of food and beverage packaging for the UK’s foodservice and hospitality sectors, refutes ‘absolutely’ the chefs’ claims that polystyrene ‘EPS’ food packaging is a danger to health and a threat to the environment.


Five leading names in the restaurant industry including chefs Ed Baines and Mark Hix, and food waste campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, have written to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, asking him to impose a city-wide ban on polystyrene packaging.  They allege it is harmful and contributes to London’s ‘abysmal’ recycling performance.


Yet Martin Kersh, Executive Director of the FPA, has countered these claims and is reassuring both foodservice operators and members of the public that they are totally without foundation.


“EPS is 100% safe and cannot harm its contents.  This is a strange and perhaps misplaced request coming from such eminent chefs who place great emphasis on the freshness and high quality of the ingredients they cook,” he said.


“EPS is widely used for the safe transportation of many food items because it has excellent insulation properties to keep contents at the required temperature.  With regard to safety, the chefs have scored a huge own goal. EPS is non-toxic. It is chemically inert so fungi and bacteria are unable to grow on it. EPS packaging will not transfer germs and is totally safe and hygienic.


“However, strawberries, beef, beer and wine all contain styrene so should we expect an announcement from the chefs to say that will be removing both of these items from their menus?” added Martin.


Martin also countered claims that EPS packaging is not recyclable, and rejected the suggestion that the packaging itself is polluting waterways and oceans.



“EPS is effectively 98% air and is made from a by-product,” he explains.  “It is also lighter so taken across the whole life cycle can be shown to be highly economical with respect to energy usage.


“The chefs must surely recognise that the packaging does not jump into the waterways on its own volition but is present in oceans and waterways as a result of human behaviour. The focus of their attack should be directed towards those people who feel it is acceptable to litter and not the packaging itself.

“Polystyrene is not difficult to recycle and facilities exist enabling this to be achieved and a valuable end material is produced.  Indeed, there has been a recycling facility in Billingsgate, London, for a number of years and a new one has just opened in Wales.

“Mayor Khan, and new Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, do not have the powers to enforce such a ban but are very keen to improve waste management in the capital.  We urge the Mayor to include changing the behaviour of those who litter in this remit and urge the chefs to give the Mayor their support in improving waste management and to provide financial support to innovative litter reduction programmes such as Hubbub’s Neat Streets campaign.

“It’s a shame these superb chefs have focused their attentions on a single material which is 100% safe, resource efficient and has excellent functional benefits. We wonder why they didn’t first discuss the management of their used EPS fish boxes with their waste contractors?” added Martin.

“We have been delighted to work with the restaurant industry to achieve food waste reductions and would be pleased to work with them and the GLA to achieve improvements in waste management.”


Ends                                                                                                                                       August 2016


Note to Editors

Further reference material regarding the safety of styrene can be found at:

  • Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA), J.T. Cohen, et al., “A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Potential Health Risks Associated with Occupational and Environmental Exposure to Styrene,” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, v. 5, no. 1-2, pp. 1-263, January 2002.


The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) brings together manufacturers and distributors of packaging used to serve and prepare food and beverages on the go with the UK’s hospitality industry. Together they raise standards with regard to packaging safety, environment and in-use performance so helping to maintain a buoyant UK foodservice sector where foodservice operators and caterers are free to choose the packaging they want and can operate within an infrastructure that allows them to continue to flourish and improve the quality and range of their menu to the public.


Issued on behalf of the FPA by Leapfrog PR. Editorial contacts are Felicity Read on 01242 282000 or email felicity@leapfrogpr.com

For media coverage, please see the links below –


Hospitality & Catering News


Undercurrent News


Packaging News


The Caterer


Plastics today