MP visits Wiltshire Farm Foods to discuss government’s proposed packaging legislations

AT a recent visit to local home meals delivery company Wiltshire Farm Foods, Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols listened to concerns shared by the company that consumers will be bearing the brunt of pending legislation with increased costs, at a time when they can ill afford it.

The Government plans to introduce new regulations for what is called “extended producer responsibility” (EPR), to tackle the growing problem of packaging waste. These regulations aim to shift the waste and recycling costs of packaging from local authorities to the businesses that produce it – a principle that industry is supportive of.
However, Wiltshire Farm Foods, along with the food industry at large, is saying that the Government has not thought through the proposed regulations properly and it has significant concerns about some unjustifiable omissions. Not least, that there is no recognition of responsible businesses that have invested large amounts in future-looking systems that improve rates of re-use and recycling. These businesses will in effect, be paying twice, a price which ultimately will be paid for by the consumer.
Ms Nichols was shown crates of plastic trays which Wiltshire Farm Foods has collected from customers, and which under its trailblazing recycling programme are sent for recycling into completely new trays containing a minimum of 80% recycled plastic.
With a customer base that averages 82 years of age, and is passionate to reduce waste and support environmental improvements, Wiltshire Farm Foods is proud of the scheme which it believes is a world-first. Its ready meal trays are not part of the kerbside recycling process but represents a better model with increased collection and recycling rates.
Yet having invested heavily in the process, it will now still fall under the proposed regulations and be asked to pay accordingly.
Lee Sheppard, Director of Policy for Wiltshire Farm Foods, who hosted the visit from Ms Nichols, says it is little more than another tax and the company is being penalised for doing the right thing and investing in responsible practice to support UK Government policy, saying:
“Whilst we fully support the principles of EPR, this is a missed opportunity for UK government to address packaging waste in a way that rewards good behaviour and without adding cost to consumers.
“It’s disappointing that after years of operation, only 36% of UK plastic PTT (pots, tubs and trays) are collected from households and furthermore, 59% of those collections are actually sent abroad for processing with uncertain results. The reality is that some of it simply ends up in landfill.
“With our own system, after just one year of operation, we see far better collection rates closer to 50% and furthermore guarantee that 100% of the trays we collect are reformed into new trays – results far better than achieved through domestic recycling.”
Ms Nichols agreed that the proposals needed clarification saying: “Anything which increases costs to the consumer is of concern right now and it’s clear that the proposed regulations would benefit from a further review.
“It is vital that we tackle waste and increase recycling including through legislation, but the legislation needs to recognise the efforts Wiltshire Farm Foods have made.
“Here we have a unique situation with conscientious regular customers washing the food trays and returning them directly on the doorstep to delivery staff when they arrive with a fresh order, and the company then recycling the whole tray to make new trays.”
Wiltshire Farm Foods delivers its high-quality, award-winning, prepared meals to more than 150,000 customers nationwide with an estimated 8,334 people over 75 living in the Warrington North constituency.
Customers can choose from a range of delicious traditional favourite mail meals and popular desserts and lighter snacks as well as meals with extra dense calories for those with small appetites.
Sheppard concluded: “We implore the government to reconsider its EPR legislative proposals before it’s too late and customers who can ill afford to pay more are penalised”.

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