NEWS & INSIGHT FROM THE FPA
FPA MESSAGE ON COVID-19 IMPACT
We can only describe this last week as simply dreadful. Actions taken and advised by government this week were unimaginable only a few days ago and we know many of you have had to make some very unpalatable decisions.
Please be assured that your FPA will continue to take a leading role protecting the interests of the industry and its customers, fighting hard to ensure we help mitigate wherever possible any threat to business. To help us do this, we ask you to advise us in strict confidence of the impact the crisis is having on your business.
RELIEF FOR HOSPITALITY SECTOR
The reaction to Chancellor Sunak’s announcement of relief for the hospitality sector, while welcomed and seen as progress, is seen as a start. This is well described here by Propel. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality has done a magnificent job in forcing government to understand the impact of the crisis for hospitality and its employees. The government must do what it takes to ensure the survival of hospitality businesses. This was raised by Peter Kyle MP (Hove) at the Business Select Committee meeting on Tuesday of which our Chairman to be, Mark Pawsey, is also a member. It is comforting to know we have Mark working at such a high level.
PLEA FOR SUPPORT FOR THE PACKAGING SECTOR
We make a plea for government to acknowledge the role of packaging which enables our population to be safely fed and this was reiterated in a conversation with Packaging News – read here. No packaging means no food, plain and simple. Therefore we ask government to put in hand financial support measures to ensure the packaging sector can continue to operate to full capacity so that retailers and producers have the packaging they need to deliver food safely and hygienically to the public. This includes the supply of raw materials, much of which is imported. The government backed loans are of course welcome but at the time of writing you need to know what is involved in applying for them and how quickly the funds will reach you. This assumes businesses wish to take on additional debt. We therefore hope grants will be extended to larger businesses with government taking the long term view that business survival is paramount.
Mark Pawsey is writing to the BEIS and Defra Secretaries of State to lobby for key worker and industry status for the packaging sector. This is in line with other countries including France, Spain and Italy and if accepted would mean packaging companies identifying key workers for childcare by schools.
HYGIENE BENEFITS OF SINGLE USE PACKAGING
We must also emphasise the hygiene benefits of single use packaging. We are witnessing positive articles about the role of plastic items in medicine and food and the benefits of single use packaging with regards to hygiene has come sharply into focus. This is not a matter of ‘we told you so’ but a plea to take the long term view that we have a big part to play in feeding our population safely and hygienically. A container evidenced to be food safe and untouched by hand is the safest means of delivering food – fact.
We will ask government to put on hold all the measures it proposes for packaging and put the start date back for each. The priority must be to for businesses to supply sufficient packaging without distraction. This is now the view of other organisations who ask government to focus only on essential business though we anticipate government will argue the crisis mustn’t be allowed to interrupt the Parliamentary timetable which includes the Environment Bill (however see below).
IMPACT OF THE CRISIS
At the outset of this statement we asked you to advise us of the impact the crisis has exerted on your business. We are very interested to assess the impact on your order book, whether you are experiencing raw material supply difficulties and whether you are experiencing other logistical difficulties. We believe packaging suppliers should be afforded a minimum level of protection from the Grocery Code Adjudicator to ensure there can be no exploitation of packaging suppliers with regards to price and payment terms which would be unsustainable. As we say, no packaging means no food.
If you provide us with information (in the strictest of confidence) you will give us the ability to represent you. We must all work together and if we do, we will come out of this crisis intact and be seen as an industry which played a huge part in feeding our population and raising hygiene standards.
HELP FOR BUSINESS
The situation is changing fast and members are urged to check www.gov.uk frequently to ensure you are up to date with the help you can get and advice on what is available to your business:
This includes advice for employers and businesses, support for businesses and guidance for employees.
We have heard from a number of sources today there is to be announcement today (last Friday) that the government will pay 75% of staff salaries of £25 000 and under, provided the employees pays the remaining 25% and retains the member of staff. Let’s hope this is announced very soon.
Specific advice on retail businesses rate guidance has been published to include takeaways click here.
ENVIRONMENT BILL POSTPONED
We learned last Thursday that proceedings on the Environment Bill has been postponed until 28th April at the earliest. due to the current situation.
Here is what Defra said: “This morning (Thursday) during the Environment Bill Committee session, it was agreed that proceedings on the Environment Bill will be postponed until 28th April at the earliest. This decision was taken following cross-party discussions, and in light of recent events. This was a difficult decision to take, however we consider it the most appropriate option at this time.”
We advise that at this time this does not mean the start date for implementation of any of the interventions has been changed.
DEFRA DRS PROPOSAL FAVOURS ‘ALL-IN’
Last week we ‘attended’ a video conference for the Defra DRS advisory group. While Scotland’s DRS start date goes back a month Defra indicated the two systems will ‘only be close’ to each other but not identical. A chart summarising Eunomia’s research in Scotland inevitably leads us to believe the England system will be all-in with containers of all sizes included, as opposed to being devoted solely to ‘on the go’. We are analysing the charts and will respond to Defra with questions. For the moment we are asked not to circulate the Defra presentation.
SCOTTISH DRS PUT BACK 12 MONTHS
On Monday Regulations were laid down in the Scottish Parliament that will create the legal framework for the Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme. These Regulations also contain the go-live date for the scheme, of July 2022.
The Regulations are available here.
Alongside the Regulations, a series of supporting documents have been published on the Scottish Government website (https://www.gov.scot/publications/).
More information, including FAQs, is available on Zero Waste Scotland’s DRS online hub (www.depositreturn.scot). This will be added to in the coming weeks with sector-specific information.
Adrian Pratt (Benders) has attended two meetings recently with the Welsh Assembly to clarify the direction of travel towards achieving the Welsh goal of Zero Waste by 2050. Adrian reports: “It was very apparent that Wales is working alongside Whitehall on all things DRS and EPR and that phasing out single use and single use plastics is felt to be a public desire. They are very focused on reduction, the mere fact that paper cups are not within the scope of the plastics tax could bring forward a Welsh levy to suppress usage. Wales is determined to get its share of EPR revenue to invest – share of revenue is a real concern.
“Those from the Welsh government expressed no view on the workings of EPR, they did however ask for help in understanding the volume of packaging used in Wales and in so doing recognised that in the highly fragmented marketplace that foodservice is, they themselves had no detail. However they are very enthused by the Cardiff and Swansea cup collection projects and will be taking guidance from them. At this stage Wales is completely aligned with Westminster in terms of consultation responses. The FPA SAGA committee will put forward the views of the Association but it is still vital that members respond – they are keen to hear from everyone and it is encouraging that they have engaged in dialogue early in the political process.
“There is much work to do here, no doubt about it.”
Big Hospitality (and others) report on the news that rules have been relaxed to allow restaurants and pubs to offer takeaway service. Read here.
Propel reports that pubs in Yorkshire are collaborating to offer ‘meals on wheels’ services as self-isolation spreads. Read here (fourth story down)
Plastics News has an events update with status on events affected by coronavirus (£) Read here.
Packaging News reports that food and packaging professionals still feel ill-informed about the importance of packaging in achieving a sustainable food supply chain. Read here.
Let’s recycle reports that the local government association for Greater London has warned avoiding contamination in recycling is now “more important than ever” enabling operators to do their job safely and limit the spread of coronavirus. Read here.
Foodservice Footprint reports that Tesco doesn’t want compostable packaging, including PLA. Read here.