Government told to delay plastics consultations

Food groups are pushing for consultations on a plastics tax and a new deposit return scheme to be postponed while the industry deals with the fallout from Brexit.

Sky News reported this week that 32 trade associations, including UK Hospitality and the Food and Drink Federation, have written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove saying they will stop cooperating with government consultations until the "catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit" has been resolved.

They wrote that while the government had recruited thousands of extra staff to deal with Brexit, food businesses were unable to do likewise, and warned that businesses had neither “the physical resources nor organisational bandwidth” to deal with policy matters unrelated to Brexit.

Among the consultations due to be held this year are those proposing a deposit return scheme for England and Wales; a consistent national recycling collection service; and a tax on plastic items with less than 30% recycled content.

Other important consultations have already opened. In January, the Department for Health and Social Care launched a consultation on plans to restrict promotions of food and drink products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) including ‘buy one, get one free’ deals and free refills of sugary soft drinks. The consultation is due to close in April.

Food businesses have been warning that a no-deal Brexit will cause major disruption to supply chains for goods that move between the UK and the EU. They warned in the letter that "if government seeks to press ahead with these consultations it will be seen by some as a sign of bad faith and many organisations may decline to respond".

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