The UK Government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into plastic food and drink packaging.

The committee wants to find out how much progress packaging manufactures, food producers and retailers have made in reducing consumers’ use of plastic food and drink packaging.

It also wants to investigate the obstacles and opportunities to progress in packaging innovation, and how well different alternatives to plastic work in comparison to plastic food and drink packaging.

Other issues it seeks to address include whether some food and drinks need to have plastic packaging or are harder to find alternatives to plastic for, and the potential impact of government proposals on reductions to plastic food and drink packaging.

Finally, it wants to know if there is sufficient research and development funding and support to develop alternatives to plastic food and drink packaging.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chair Neil Parish MP said: “Plastic currently pollutes this country’s soils, rivers and coasts, with millions of tonnes of plastics used in the UK every single year. It has become a global environmental problem. Once plastic packaging becomes waste, most of it does not biodegrade which damages the environment and affects a range of marine species.

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“The committee is keen to find out what progress has been made in developing and using more environmentally friendly alternatives to plastics and how they perform when compares to plastic food and drink packaging.

“It is imperative that we find practical ways to protect the environment and reduce the risks posed by increasing plastic pollution. We also hope to highlight how Government action may help to alleviate this significant threat.”

The deadline for written responses is midnight on 2 May, and the committee would like a diverse range of people to contribute to the inquiry, encouraging members of underrepresented groups to give written evidence on the plastic packaging inquiry.