London chefs cooking up a storm on EPS ban; FPA counters EPS not a “bad egg”


The newly appointed Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, may already have quite a lot on his plate, and now, London’s top chefs, including Ed Baines, Theo Randall, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Mark Hix, have appealed to the Mayor to ban polystyrene packaging, amidst claims that the full extent of its use in the food industry is hidden.

According to a report in the Evening Standard, Baines, owner of Randall & Aubin in Soho, said while progress had been made in retail outlets, usage of EPS (expanded polystyrene) still remained widespread, likening it to wool being pulled over people’s eyes. He adds, “What the public don’t see are the trucks delivering products — an awful lot of which are still in polystyrene.”

The chef also says a lot of fish is packaged in EPS, adding that it was a nuisance and inconvenient to get rid of.

An alternative is to use reinforced cardboard, say the chefs, adding that they want a ban to come into force in one to two years.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London has said, “Sadiq does not have the power to enforce a ban on polystyrene packaging in London but he is extremely supportive of initiatives to help boost recycling and make London cleaner.”

Furthermore, the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) has countered that “EPS is 100% safe, resource-efficient and has excellent functionality.”

“This is a strange and perhaps misplaced request coming from such eminent chefs who place great emphasis on the freshness and high quality of the ingredients they cook, and so rely on fish arriving with them in perfect condition as befitting their well-earned reputations," said Martin Kersh, Executive Director of FPA.


Kersh adds that EPS is used for fish boxes as tests confirm “it provides excellent insulation qualities, and where fish may take three days from landing to kitchen, EPS is shown to keep the fish below 5°C when packed with ice.”

Meantime, Kersh says the chefs have not considered the full life cycle of EPS, since it is effectively 98% air and is made from a by-product. “It is also lighter so taken across the whole life cycle can be shown to be highly economical with respect to energy usage."

FPA also explains that EPS is not difficult to recycle, with facilities available in Billingsgate and Wales. The chefs involved should have first discussed the management of used EPS fish boxes with their waste management contractors, rather than issue "very inaccurate comments", said FPA.

FPA also responded that the target of the chefs’ campaign should be "those people who feel it is acceptable to litter, and not the packaging itself".

Clearly a storm in a teacup situation!


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