Tetra Pak has published a report on the UK food system, which calls on the UK Government to “prioritise innovation in packaging solutions” and “continue to create defined regulation and policies on packaging recycling.”

The report consists of research conducted by Tetra Pak on perceptions and intentions around sustainability within food systems amongst 150 UK food and drink businesses and 511 consumers.

This is alongside input from food and drink industry experts and politicians held at a roundtable. These include Oatly, WWF UK, and Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy & Climate Change.

What are the recommendations addressed to the UK government?

Of the eleven recommendations in the report, four address packaging solutions:

  • The Government should take a more leading role in driving meaningful engagement with suppliers, processors, distributors, and supermarkets to develop more sustainable sourcing, production, and distribution methods for food. Such collaboration should prioritise innovation within processing and packaging to ensure that consumers are able to access high quality, safe food with a reduced carbon impact.
  • The Government should continue to create defined regulation around food and drink packaging recycling, which encourages and promotes the use of circular materials as foundational within packaging regulations. This should include specific recycling targets for all packaging materials.
  • The Government should use policy and regulation which encourages the deployment of sustainably sourced, low carbon plant-based materials in packaging. This includes removing plant-based polymers from the scope of the Plastic Packaging Tax, to incentivise their adoption by packaging manufacturers and producers.
  • The Government must continue to design and implement recycling policies that ensure that adequate infrastructure for separate collection of used packaging is put in place. This includes the UK’s Deposit Return Scheme, for which the Government should set a firm date for a post launch review of the materials included, so as wide a range of materials as possible, including carton packages, can be added at the first opportunity.

The report adds that the “recycling of food and drink packaging is at the heart of a solution – creating a circular economy to keep valuable materials in use for as long as possible.”

The report also emphasises helping consumers to make more informed choices. According to Tetra Pak’s survey, 50% of consumers say that the decarbonisation efforts or sustainability credentials of brands have a bearing on the purchases they make.

Alex Henriksen, managing director, North Europe and UK at Tetra Pak commented: “We must not underestimate the role we all have to play in the global food system, and how it must be decarbonised in order to meet global net zero goals. The government should take action and support consumers to play their part.”

In February, Henriksen told Packaging Gateway that “To develop a circular economy that embraces the continual recycling and reuse of materials across the entire value chain, manufacturers need to consider the complete lifecycle of a package – from production to end-of-life.” Tetra Pak now hopes to encourage collaboration between manufacturers and governments to achieve sustainable packaging solutions.