In support of small independent foodservice providers, the FPA calls for a public information campaign and delay to the October 1 ban on some single-use plastic items.
The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) is calling for a Defra information campaign to ensure small independent foodservice providers are aware of the single-use plastics ban, together with Defra guidance published in multiple languages. Once the guidance is in place the FPA is requesting that Defra grants a delay of at least three months to allow operators to use up existing stocks.
When Defra announced the ban of some single-use plastic items earlier this year, there was no accompanying public information campaign. The Guidance for affected businesses was not published until 23 May – and then in English only , and less than six months prior to the scheduled introduction of the ban, so well within the buying period for purchasing stocks.
As was highlighted in Radio 4’s You and Yours programme on Monday 14 August, much confusion surrounds the ban in relation to which items are included, and in what circumstances. This was also evident recently in messaging circulated by Devon County Council, which incorrectly informed local businesses that paper cups and lids – and all single use plastic items – are to be banned. It needs to be made much clearer that plastic plates, bowls and trays can continue to be used as packaging.
Based on data and analysis from Census 2021*, in London alone almost half of all those working in restaurants and mobile foodservice activities are from ethnic minorities. For many, English will be their second language.
Many small independent takeaway businesses are not aware of the ban or the guidance, which includes sanctions for businesses still holding stocks of the banned items after 01 October.
Through no fault of their own, uninformed businesses will face fines if they fail to comply with the ban, and for independent traders this may result in large amounts of stocks having to be scrapped. The alternatives to the banned items are expensive. For example, replacements for expanded polystyrene boxes cost four times more, and some substitutions for plastic cutlery are six times more expensive. Independent foodservice operators need more time to prepare.
Small independent takeaway businesses are already under financial stress. Huge increases in energy and food prices have forced many to close, and others are struggling to continue trading. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for owners to live above their shop premises with their families, so the potential impact is far greater if these independent takeaways fold.
“The guidance needs to be clearly communicated and published in different languages to reflect the diverse nature of the small independent takeaway trade”, says Martin Kersh, executive director at the FPA.
“To raise awareness, it should also be accompanied by a large-scale publicity campaign, which includes advice for affected businesses on disposing of surplus banned stock responsibly. Once that happens, an additional three-month delay for small independent takeaway businesses seems reasonable and will avoid the financial hardship of scrapping stock, which has already been paid for, and then purchasing new, more expensive stock to replace it.
“Ultimately, and despite the prime minister’s wish that environmental measures should not impact on inflation, for takeaway businesses to survive, the cost will inevitably have to be passed on to their customers”.
Notes to editors
*Figure taken from data and analysis of Census 2021 ‘Ethnicity of those employed in restaurant and mobile food service activities, UK, 2010 to 2018‘
Martin Kersh, Executive Director of the FPA, is available for interviews and/or further comment. Please contact Louise Holmes, FPA Media & Communications: 07909 728069 or email email@example.com
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