New research and recommendations from waste prevention charity Wrap signal the end of unnecessary plastic packaging and best before labels on a wide range of fresh uncut fruit and vegetables in the UK.
The global NGO has provided evidence to show that selling fresh produce loose and removing date labels could prevent 14 million shopping baskets worth of food from going to waste and 1,100 rubbish trucks of avoidable plastic simply – the move, it says, would better allow people to buy what they need.
In a call to action to the retail industry to accompany its new report, Wrap also urges retailers to remove wrapping on multi-packs of tinned food and sauce sachets in restaurants.
An 18-month project conducted by Wrap, with input from some of the largest players in the retail industry, examined the link between food waste in the home and the use of plastic packaging – and it now challenges accepted thinking that packaging helps to preserve fresh produce.
Wrap argues that selling loose has huge potential to reduce food waste in people’s homes, and is calling on retailers to “sell loose” where possible, unless it is shown that plastic packaging reduces overall food waste.
The NGO also wants retailers to remove date labels – unless it can be shown that a best before reduces overall food waste – as well as encourage consumers to refrigerate these fresh items below 5 degrees C at home.
Marcus Gover, CEO of Wrap, said the research “could be a game-changer in the fight against food waste and plastic pollution”.
“We have demystified the relationship between wasted food, plastic packaging, date labels and food storage,” he explained.
“While packaging is important and often carries out a critical role to protect food, we have proven that plastic packaging doesn’t necessarily prolong the life of uncut fresh produce. It can in fact increase food waste in this case.”
He added: “We are all living with the reality of the climate emergency and the rising cost of living. This new clarity could not be more timely. We need retailers to step up and follow our recommendations so we can achieve real progress in tackling food waste and plastic pollution. This helps save the planet and us money at the same time – a real win-win.”
Wrap also published today an updated list of key plastic items for UK Plastics Pact members to remove as far as possible by the end of 2022. The additional items are, as follows: plastic wrapping for multi-sales of tins, bottles, and cartons; PVC cling film; non compostable fruit and veg stickers; non compostable tea and coffee bags; and single use/single serving plastic sachets/jiggers in restaurant settings.
[Image credit: Wrap]