HC Deb 10 November 2003 vol 413 c2W
Mr. Blizzard

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to require fast food outlets to use only biodegradable packaging. [134847]

Mr. Morley

We have no plans at present to require fast food outlets to use only biodegradable packaging. The concept of degradable plastics that are made from mineral oil (a fossil fuel resource) and specifically designed for disposal with no beneficial recovery potential, runs counter to the aim to increase recycling. In addition, if disposed of in landfill rather than, for example, being composted, biodegradable waste breaks down to release greenhouse gases. It is for this reason that the Landfill Directive requires member states to significantly reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill.

The Government do support the development of biodegradable plastics from non-fossil sources. The Government-Industry Forum on Non-Food Uses of Crops has concluded that there is a opportunity to produce compostable packaging materials in the UK. Defra is currently drawing up a Non-Food Crops Strategy. A draft is expected to be issued for consultation early in 2004.

The Government are also committed to reducing the incidents of fast food litter. We recently launched consultation document entitled "Voluntary Code of Practice for the Fast Food Industry—Options for Reducing Fast Food Litter and Waste in the Local Environment". The consultation closes on 30 January 2004.