‘A drop in the ocean’: Food experts gather to discuss the UK’s plastic problem

Friday 16 November 2018

With the UK’s ‘on-the-go’ recycling needing improvement and consumer awareness growing, the food industry has to innovate and change its approach to the use of plastics.

Biodegradable and compostable packaging as well as electronically activated bottles that heat or cool contents were just some of the solutions being discussed at a packaging innovation event held by Roythornes Solicitors on Thursday 15 November at the Kingsgate Conference Centre in Peterborough.

Over 120 professionals working across the food industry discussed the consumer driven decrease in the use of plastics.

Paul Jenkins, Managing Director of packaging consultancy The PackHub, led the conversation and shared his expertise and insight with delegates regarding the sector’s latest trends.

He talked about how the 14-minute clip from the BBC’s popular Blue Planet television series of a turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nostril has changed the face of the packaging industry and in turn, food manufacturers’ approach to plastics.

He said: “The programme completely gripped consumers and this has driven a lot of change and innovation within the industry. Due to the strength of consumer feelings towards the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans, companies like PepsiCo having reacted by introducing new recycling systems.

“In reality, whilst initiatives such as this make consumers feel better about themselves, they have little impact in solving the UK’s overall plastics problem and much more needs to be done by major industry players before it is under control.”

Peter Cusick, Partner and Head of Food and Drink at Roythornes Solicitors, said: “There is now a huge move towards packaging sustainability by food businesses. New technologies such as electronically activated bottles that you can hand to a coffee provider, as well as using traceable paper as a plastic alternative, are two big innovations currently entering the main-stream. Paul offered some invaluable insights into how these new solutions are working in practice.

“We are delighted that our Food Business Breakfast has become a key date in the networking calendar for business professionals based in Peterborough and further afield across the Midlands and East Anglia. We aim to bring thought-provoking insights and lead the way on the topics that are impacting businesses the most.

“Interestingly, Wrap has now released a roadmap, offering guidance to businesses with the aim of achieving a significant reduction in plastics by 2025 for those in the retail, food and manufacturing sectors.”

The Food Business Breakfast is a bi-annual event which aims to bring together a diverse range of organisations, including food producers, machinery suppliers and professional services, to create new opportunities for business collaboration with likeminded experts.

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