The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is launching its much anticipated inquiry into plastic food and drink packaging.

Chair of the Committee Neil Parish MP commented: “Plastic currently pollutes this country’s soils, rivers and coasts, with millions of tonnes of plastics used in the UK every single year.

It has become a global environmental problem. Once plastic packaging becomes waste, most of it does not biodegrade – which damages the environment and affects a range of marine species.

“The Committee is keen to find out what progress has been made in developing and using more environmentally friendly alternatives to plastics and how they perform when compared to plastic food and drink packaging.

“It is imperative that we find practical ways to protect the environment and reduce the risks posed by increasing plastic pollution. We also hope to highlight how Government action may help to alleviate this significant threat.”

Terms of reference

The Committee is seeking written submissions that address the following questions:

1. What progress have packaging manufacturers, food producers and retailers made in developing and using alternatives to, and reducing consumers’ use of plastic food and drink packaging?
2. What are the barriers to and opportunities for further innovation?
3. How do alternatives to plastic perform compared to plastic food and drink packaging?
4. Are there food and drink products for which it is essential to use plastic, or for which it is more difficult to develop and use alternatives?
5. What impact will the following two Government proposals have on reducing plastic food and drink packaging?
a. an extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging to ensure the costs of collection and recycling are borne by those that produce packaging and place it on the market, and
b. a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled plastic, to encourage manufacturers to produce more sustainable packaging and create greater demand for recycled material?
6. Is there adequate research and development funding and support for alternatives to plastic food and drink packaging?

Submissions deadline

Written evidence can be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by midnight on Thursday 2nd May. The Committee has recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons first, which outlines particulars of the word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.