Government report calls for foodservice packaging voluntary litter labelling agreement

Government report calls for foodservice packaging voluntary litter labelling agreement

The Government response to the Department of Communities & Local Government Select Committee Inquiry on Litter has now been published. The FPA gave evidence to this Inquiry.

The report confirms the Government are to begin work on the first-ever national litter strategy to put in place a coherent clean-up plan for England. The ministers were clear this is a priority for our communities who deserve a lasting legacy of clutter-free towns, cities and countryside. In order to galvanise a collective sense of responsibility over the issue, the government will for the first time work with town halls, campaign groups and businesses – including fast food firms and manufacturers of chewing gum, confectionary and soft drinks – to ensure a coherent and joined-up approach.

This DCLG response confirms the direction of travel proposed in the Committee report published in March. Along with 26 other organisations including the major UK litter groups the FPA called for the Government to set up an Advisory Committee for Litter. Defra Minister, Rory Stewart has, in the last 2 weeks, twice referred to setting up a Litter Task Force which we certainly support. While the report has been issued by the DCLG it would have been good to see reference made to the proposed task force as it would have been a good example of the 2 departments working more closely together on this issue.
We are pleased to see no reference to a levy on takeaway food retailers nor to charges on packaging has been made as these were initial considerations of the Select Committee and very much hope the direction for a national litter strategy will be directed towards changing the behaviour of those who litter and not punishing the majority who don’t.
We agree with the report’s recommendation for packaging that  producers of food for consumption ‘on the go’ to undertake voluntarily to label or agree a minimum set of information requirements with regard to litter This is of course must be subject to space availability and packaging format but nonetheless consumer information and messaging is an area on which the industry can and should work together. This is a key recommendation of the report impacting on foodservice packaging producers.
The report rightly does not recommend compulsory litter patrols by retailers though quite rightly acknowledges the excellent voluntary work undertaken by many in the foodservice sector. The emphasis must of course be to ensure the public doesn’t litter in the first place. The report supports the original findings of ensuring the laws concerning retailers ensuring the outside of their premises are clean. We support this enforcement as the majority of foodservice retailers comply but those who don’t encourage litter to be dropped.
We also welcome a review of the method of litter data collection and would be pleased to see the Government investing in this.
We are pleased the Government is considering increasing fines provided they are enforced and seen as a means of discouraging litter rather than creating income for a third party enforcement organisation. The government should advise on what sort of litter should merit a fine as recent cases of accidental littering (such as unknowingly dropping a shred of lettuce) have created negative publicity and harm efforts to dissuade the public from littering.
Local Authorities are recommended to review some of the newer developments in bins.