An online petition gained more than 75,000 signatures, triggering a debate by Conservative MP David Mackintosh.
Resources minister Therese Coffey delivered the Government’s response, refusing to back a ban on unrecyclable packaging and continuing its stance for a voluntary approach.
“It is ultimately for businesses to decide what packaging materials they use to supply products to customers, and for customers to make choices on the products they buy,” she said.
Coffey said current packaging regulations incentivised businesses to use less packaging and ensure it can be recycled.
She also repeated Defra’s commitment to meeting the 50% household recycling target by 2020 and said the department expected to introduce the circular economy package into law.
The Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment (Incpen) earlier voiced its concerns about the Westminster debate.
Some of the comments on its social media feed read:
“Banning non-recyclable packaging will increase, not reduce waste!”
“It might seem anti-intuitive but mixed-material, non-recyclable packaging generates LESS waste than recyclable packaging…”
“Why don’t those who call for packaging producers to pay more, ask the newsprint & magazine industry to pay more too?”
Conservative MP Mark Pawsey, chairman of the all-party group for the packaging manufacturing industry, said: “A great deal of what is contained in the e-petition is not practical.”
He gave the example of food packaging, pointing out it often uses multiple polymer plastic wrapping to protect the product from hazardous material.
Pawsey also disputed the benefit of compostable packaging, saying it could end up being a contaminant if incorrectly sent for recycling.
And he stressed the importance of retailers using use as little material as possible.
“There is absolutely no point in over-packaging, and no point in creating too much or in making the plastic or board out of too thick a gauge – that would add cost unnecessarily.”
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