Exclusive interview with former BPF director-general

‘Attacks on plastic products are not supported by scientific fact’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Peter Davis
Peter Davis

Related tags Bpf Board of directors United kingdom

The former director general of The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has spoken out about the future of the association and the industry following his retirement.

Peter Davis retired from the BPF at the end of June after 16 years in the role. He is replaced by Philip Law who took the helm in July.

Personal letter from David Cameron


Davis joined the Federation in 1998 after a rich career which had already earned him an OBE for political services.

He was leader of the Conservative Party in Lambeth Town Council during the days of the infamous Red Ted Knight and later worked as a special advisor to Kenneth Baker, now Lord Baker, then Secretary of State of the Environment.

Prior to joining the Federation as director general he was the director of Incpen, the Industry Committee on Packaging and the Environment, where he played a role in determining the split in responsibilities among the players in the packaging chain for the recovery and recycling of packaging.
At the BPF, he carried the profile of the organisation to great political heights, most recently witnessed in the personal letter sent to him by David Cameron, thanking Davis for his contributions to British Industry.
Speaking exclusively to FoodProductionDaily.com Davis said his least favourite memory in his time at the association was attacks on plastic products by the media and researchers trying to get publicity with statements not supported by scientific fact.

Sadly, our national media prefer scare stories to the authoritative views of bodies like the BPF and the Food Standards Agency​,” he said.

The BPF has greatly improved the UK plastics industry's profile and influence as a key strategic and highly innovative manufacturing sector​.

This is recognised by Government with whom we have a close relationship. Also the Bank of England who see our industry as a key barometer for what is happening in the manufacturing economy. The BPF Council meet inside the Bank every year for a discussion with the deputy governor and his staff​.

The plastics industry supplies product into every part of the economy: food and drink packaging; aerospace; pharma; the car industry; electrical and electronics; housewares. The industry is widespread, there is probably at least one plastics business in every Parliamentary constituency. There are three BPF member companies in David Cameron’s constituency. He has visited them all.​”

Climate Change Agreement

During Davis’s time in office, the BPF managed to secure a Climate Change Agreement and set up BPF Energy which brought has brought enormous cost savings to the industry.

After years of lobbying, it was a proud moment to read in the April 2009 Budget Statement that the Plastics Industry was to get a Climate Change Agreement with Government which, in exchange for meeting energy reduction targets gave our companies a substantial discount on the Climate Change Levy​,” he added.

It gave the plastics industry a level playing field on cost with rival materials and coming in the midst of the recession was a boost to morale. The BPF administers the CCA with 325 sites in it​.”

On his decision to retire, Davis said he was 65 in February and wanted to look for new opportunities in work while still in the prime.

After 16 years at the BPF it’s good to have a change and not have to get up at 6am​,” he said. “I am continuing as deputy chairman of the Enterprise Forum and have joined the Council of the Anglo Danish Society.

"But I am looking for interesting and challenging opportunities in project work; lobbying; writing; and a non-executive director role​.

Six world class polymer universities

I am very optimistic about the future of the UK plastics industry. We have national strengths such as the readily available oil, gas and chemicals needed for plastics production. We have six world class polymer universities and a world class UK design industry, which our industry works closely with​.

We have large and small highly innovative companies with a strong environmental ethos​.

"The UK has an estimated 100 years supply of shale gas. These must be explored and extracted to give us local energy supplies rather than depend on imports, but it will also give hydrocarbons to provide raw materials for the plastics and chemicals industries and give us a tremendous competitive advantage​.

It is important the Government encourages new industries and therefore jobs near the shale gas extraction sites​.”

The BPF is the UK trade association for the plastics industry – representing the whole supply chain including polymer producers, distributors, additives suppliers, machinery manufacturers, processors and recyclers.

Related topics Processing & packaging

Related news

Follow us


View more