HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 c828W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the(a) risk to human health and (b) impact on the environment of discarded waste from fast food outlets; what action she requires to be taken to deal with this problem, and by whom; and if she will make a statement. [173240]

Alun Michael

The Government's approach to cutting fast food litter, with the voluntary code we have promoted resulting in a 20 per cent. cut in fast food litter in pilot areas compared with a general worsening by 12 per cent. across the country between 2002 and 2003. The challenge now is for all concerned to put the lessons into practice.

In October 2003 Defra launched a consultation exercise in order to establish a Voluntary Code of Practice for the Fast Food Industry, following 18 months of research with industry representatives. Defra commissioned ENCAMS (formerly Tidy Britain Group) to develop the voluntary code. In February we published the Local Environmental Quality Survey for England 2002–03 (LEQSE) carried out by ENCAMS which showed fast food litter had increased by 12 per cent. over the last year, and that it had become more widespread. However, with practical application of the code's recommendations, a good practice example project led to a 20 per cent. reduction in fast food littering.

The aim of the proposed voluntary code of practice is to reduce fast food litter and waste that becomes litter in the local environment by outlining best practice and recommendations for action to be taken by all fast food retailers working with local authorities and seeking to involve the local public. It will allow all parties to work together in a mutually supportive partnership, to find local solutions to local problems.

In addition the Government are involved in studies regarding the health effects of waste management processes, although these have not been concerned with small scale local issues such as commercial waste from food outlets. These are dealt with effectively by way of local authority Environmental Health Officers.

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