UK businesses agree to help fight packaging waste

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fast food, Local government

Fast food manufacturers and retailers have given broad support to
Government proposals to cut the amount of fast food litter on the
streets, and to the role of partnerships in tackling the problem.

Businesses, local authorities and the general public were asked to comment on a number of measures in a proposed Code of Practice for the fast food industry, the responses to which were published by Defra (department of environment food and rural affairs) earlier this month. Measures include minimising packaging where possible, a strategy that could lead to a fall in demand for food packaging and an increased push towards recyclable materials.

The comments will now contribute to a formal Code of Practice, to be launched later this year.

Research by ENCAMS, the charity which runs the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign, shows that though people find fast food litter one of the top two most offensive types of littering, the amount of it on the streets has increased nationally by 12 per cent in the past year. However a pilot project which adopted a partnership approach between retailers, the public, and the local authority, demonstrated a reduction in fast food littering of 20 per cent.

This project was conceived in March 2001, at the ENCAMS People & Places Annual Conference, when Defra announced its intention to develop a Voluntary Code of Best Environmental Practice for the fast food industry in order to reduce the levels of fast food litter and waste that becomes litter. A wide-ranging research project was carried out by ENCAMS during summer 2002, into the issues surrounding fast food litter and waste, and their impact on public space.

"I am delighted by the constructive response this consultation has had, particularly from the fast food industry,"​ said Alun Michael, UK minister for local environmental quality. "McDonalds and local authorities have already worked together to pilot the ideas we are proposing, and the results are very encouraging. These are simple suggestions, but the potential impact they can have is far reaching, and will contribute to a better quality of life for all of us."

Sir Jeremy Beecham, chair of the Local Government Association, said: "Public concern over the state of our streets and open spaces is at an all-time high - and the increasing trend of eating on the hoof means most communities now face a significant litter problem.

"The Local Government Association's pioneering work with McDonalds is a clear example of the difference that can be made when councils work in partnership with local fast food outlets to tackle the issue."

Jessica Sansom, environment manager for McDonald's UK, said that the company was happy to engage and promote effective and workable environmental practices. She said that McDonalds welcomed the opportunity to pilot the Code of Practice and provide useful feedback to Defra.

Defra says that it will continue to analyse the consultation responses over the next months, with a view to publishing the final code in the autumn. Fast food industry representatives and local authorities will be closely involved in its development.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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