Supermarkets face ban on fruit and veg plastic packaging

Supermarkets face a potential ban on fruit and veg plastic packaging as the government considers a return to traditional ‘greengrocer’ style methods which will force them to sell more loose fresh produce.

The new supermarket rules will mean consumers are no longer forced to buy larger pre-packed amounts of fruit or veg in a two-pronged move designed to combat the UK’s growing amount of food and packaging waste.

A ban, if implemented, will mean shoppers are able to choose exactly how much they want to buy, which it is hoped will reduce the amount of food waste generated. It will also dramatically help cut down on the thousands of tons of plastic packaging that ends up in landfill or being buried in the UK every year.

Currently, just 19% of all fruit and veg in the UK is sold as loose produce.

While many supermarkets already sell fresh produce in recyclable or compostable bags, the new rules will make it compulsory.

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Research shows that every person in the UK threw away an average of 76kg of food a year in 2021, an increase of 9kg on 2018.

Environment minister Robbie Moore said: ‘Nobody wants to see good food go to waste. It harms our environment, it’s bad for business – and it’s morally indefensible.’

Tory MP Sir Robert Goodwill, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) said he welcomed the attempts to reduce plastic packaging and allow people to buy loose produce in supermarkets.

“Of course, some foodstuffs such as cucumbers will always be better sold pre-packed to lengthen the life of the product and prevent leakage that contaminates other foods,” he said.

“But that packing doesn’t always have to be in plastic and, where possible, wholesalers and supermarkets should do their utmost to use recyclable, paper-based packaging.”

Catherine David, director of behaviour change and business programmes at anti-waste charity Wrap – which has advised the government on the new supermarket strategy – said: ‘We waste 12% of the food that we buy, with an average household of four throwing away £1,000 of good food each year.

“This is happening because our food system is making it hard for people to buy only what they need, and to use more of what they buy.”

The British Retail Consortium has warned that the ban should not go too far, highlighting both economic and technical barriers to increasing loose produce.

“With grocers already facing very significant cost increases across the supply chain it’s important any further regulatory burdens are proportionate and part of a cohesive strategy,” it said.

Delicate items such as soft fruits and berries are expected to be exempt from the supermarket packaging ban.

Food and farmingMaterials and packagingRetail

1 Comment. Leave new

  • I am throwing away more and more veg which has basically rotted in the plastic bags they have been bought in, partly, I believe, because they have no airholes in them. Bring in loose veg, the sooner the better!


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