As more operators reopen so pressure for them to accept reusable containers is rapidly building. The NGO City To Sea has formed an action group to identify how reusable coffee cups can be reintroduced safely as reported in The Grocer here. 

We have accepted an invitation to join the group as we are committed to making reusables work in appropriate circumstances, however in the current pandemic scenario we have asked for food hygiene and public safety experts to be included as currently the group membership includes very little of the expertise needed to ensure reusables can be used without any risk to employees and the public.  Government has left the decision on whether to accept reusables to operators.

Environment does not enter this debate and the decision by operators to accept reusables must be 100% based on the ability of each site to implement scientifically-endorsed procedures that eliminate risk. Protecting the public and staff means we must move away from opinion into evidence and proven facts.

Prior to the invitation to join this group we had already spoken to food safety and hygiene experts including academics and the Institute of Food Science and Technology to gather evidence. The results of these conversations indicate:

  • The science of the survival of viruses on various materials is not fully understood and it may be 6-18 months before it is
  • Regular surface cleaning is undertaken by food shops to clear surfaces for e-coli, norovirus and other food safety threats in normal times and this process takes us part of the way to being able to clean this virus away
  • Where we have big numbers such as transport hubs, the risk increases so with regard to procedures one size does not fit all
  • Items to be reused safely need to washed to industrial dishwasher standards of 90 degrees – a simple wash under the tap is insufficient
  • Reusables add to the risk because the number of contact points is higher than with single use items – from the person at home washing the reusable to the person bringing it into the premises to the possibility of handing it over, as advised in some articles, for it to be washed.  The greater the numbers the greater the risk

Therefore it is is technically possible to accept reusables but very strict procedures need to be in place and these must vary with size of premises, customer numbers and washing facilities.  It has been mentioned the default position is to use disposables with procedures designed for each site that are proven to ensure equivalent safety before reusables should be accepted.

In an odd development City To Sea is already promoting a solution ahead of the first group meeting, reported here in The Grocer, but it is advised (as above) facilities need to be able to frequently clean trays at 90 degrees.

It is clear that procedures for safe reusable usage in store must go beyond normal food hygiene regimes and that reducing the contact points of containers is key.  Listening to the experts we believe more time is needed to understand the science and so identify the proven procedure to protect public health, and that of operating staff.  Will the rush to return to normal usage come at a public health cost?



More than 100 members registered for last week’s webinar eager to hear the views of our guest speakers, industry insight specialist Peter Backman and Dr Andrew Kemp MBE Sales and Marketing Director at Bidfood.  FPA Chairman Mark Pawsey chaired the session and took a number of questions from the audience.  Our sincere thanks for Peter and Andy for their time yesterday and to everyone for taking part.

Peter shared his analysis on where the UK hospitality sector is now and the ‘bath shaped’ recovery he anticipates over the next six to nine months.  Uncertainty will prevail for some time as consumers will be wary and their habits will have changed.  The implications for those servicing the sector will continue to be severe and redundancies and operator failures are anticipated.  However there will be positive signs as entrepreneurs and investors get ready to make the most of the situation.  Deliveries will continue to play an important part and the market has moved forward by a couple of years in this respect over just three months.  Menus will have to be more simple and shorter to accommodate safe working practices front and back of house.

Andy drew on the global experiences of Bidfood in recent weeks as lockdowns ease around the world ahead of the UK.  Some markets, notably China, have seen a strong bounce back with restaurants jam-packed, particularly for lunchtime trade, but the picture is different with slower recoveries in, for example, Singapore and Dubai. New Zealand and Australia are coming out more strongly, but every territory is having to find new ways of delivering an acceptable customer experience.  The common theme is that consumer confidence needs a highly visible demonstration that the operator is taking health and safety very seriously and that procedures are being closely followed both back and front of house.  This is driving innovation in some areas, for example coffee and breakfast ‘take to the desk’ stations by elevators in office buildings as operators devise ways of meeting demand in COVID-safe ways.

This need to demonstrate food safety could drive innovation in packaging as we find ways to show that our packaging is both food-safe and hygienic.  For some operators using single use items will continue to be a necessity, for example in care homes and education, and a further challenge to the sector is to continue the drive to ensure that all products are captured and responsibly recycled.

If you missed the webinar you can watch the recording using this link.




Led by the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA), we have signed an open letter to DEFRA Secretary of State George Eustice, asking him to consider banning the use, sale and distribution in the UK of conventional non-biodegradable plastics containing additives, which are meant to accelerate the fragmentation of plastics into microplastics.  The EU Single Use Plastics Directive includes the clause “Member States shall prohibit the placing on the market of … products made from oxo-degradable plastic”. Evidence from DEFRA and the EU refutes the claim that oxo-degradable additives can transform polyolefin plastics into biodegradable plastics, as they merely accelerate the fragmentation of plastics into microplastics.

The letter was signed by eight organisations including RECOUP, ESA, Greenpeace and A Plastic Planet


Recoup, under its Pledge2Recycle Plastics brand, has launched a new campaign that the FPA is pleased to support called #dontthrowonthego to discourage consumers from littering – very apt given the appalling photographs of litter left behind on beaches and in beauty spots by revellers over the last weekend.

The campaign runs 1-14 June and FPA members are encouraged to share the collateral on their own social media feeds to amplify the message.  Please do support this campaign.




Bidfood continues its efforts to support the government scheme to provide those who are vulnerable or shielding with vital supplies.  Anna Turner, Chairman of the FPA Membership Committee, has been working tirelessly for this effort over the past 10 weeks delivering parcels to peoples’ doorsteps, covering thousands of miles, some of them very steep and narrow.  Anne says: “The dynamics for the deliveries change each week.  At first people didn’t really understand why they were receiving them, and now, as time has gone on, people are now expecting them.  I get about 1 in 30 that no longer wants the package, so there is still a demand.   At our peak we were delivering 250,000 boxes a week, we are now at 210,000.  The work is keeping me fit – the boxes weigh 20 kilos each so I’m often lifting 1000 kilos a day!”




The government announced yesterday it will provide guarantees of up to £10 billion to Trade Credit Insurance schemes for business-to-business transactions:

  • trade credit insurance coverage to be maintained across the market in light of COVID-19, with up to £10 billion government backing
  • measures will support thousands of businesses by protecting against customer defaults or payment delays
  • scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and available to insurers operating in the UK market

The government says: “The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK.”   More here.




The Financial Times
 reports that fears over the spread of coronavirus have driven consumers back to throwaway packaging. Read here (£).

Resource Magazine  reports that WRAP and INCPEN are working with Valpak to update the PackFlow material reports in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Read here.

Let’s Recycle reports that Greenpeace has called for an investigation into the plastics recycling industry after its studies found imports of the material from Europe has caused an “environmental crisis” in Malaysia.  Read here.

Plastics In Packaging says that Chemical Recycling Europe has published a position paper in which it outlines the “urgent need” to develop and implement new polymer recycling technologies that go beyond traditional mechanical recycling.  Read here.

Food Packaging Forum reports that law firm Keller and Heckman LLP has informed that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has added 18 additional entries to its  Inventory of Effective Food Contact Substances (FCS) Notifications since January 2020. Food contact substances within the inventory are those that “have been demonstrated to be safe for their intended use.”  Read here.