The House of Commons debated whether supermarkets should have to offer fruit and vegetables which are not wrapped in plastic, following an online petition which managed to gain 123,000 signatures.
Under the rules of the Government’s petition, any campaign which achieves more than 100,000 signatures is eligible for debate by MPs. The debate was opened by Steve Double MP, a member of the Petitions Committee.
Prior to the debate, the Government had responded to the petition saying, ‘We are working with retailers and the Waste and Resources Action Programme to explore the potential for the introduction of plastic-free initiatives in supermarkets in which fresh food is sold loose, adding, ‘Packaging has an important and positive role to play in reducing product damage, increasing shelf-life, and reducing food waste.’
However, during the debate, Sandy Martin MP argued that plastic packaging could be counterproductive: “Plastic packaging on fresh fruit and vegetables may contribute to food waste: by offering a fixed packaged quantity, people may be induced to buy more than they need, as the hon. Member for Henley mentioned. Also, the amount of waste may be disguised. Rather than damaged food being thrown away by the supermarket, the customer may well find damaged fruit or vegetables inside the plastic packaging and then throw them away in the household. Also, I question whether most fresh fruit and vegetables are given an enhanced shelf life by being wrapped in plastic.”
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