The Recycling Association refutes claims by top chefs on polystyrene packaging

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Claims by top London chefs that polystyrene (EPS) packaging cannot be recycled have been challenged by The Recycling Association.

In an article in the Evening Standard, chefs including Ed Baines, Theo Randall, Hugh Fearnley-Whittinghstall (pictured) and Mark Hix claimed that the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) boxes that fish is delivered in cannot be recycled and should be replaced by reinforced cardboard boxes.

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This viewpoint has been refuted by The Recycling Association.

Chief Executive Simon Ellin said: “EPS is a valuable commodity, and contrary to the claims of the chefs, is 100% recyclable.

“One of the reasons that this material is not always collected by waste management companies is that it is very light and bulky. This means that they cannot justify collecting this material alone, as a single stream.

“In addition, it is often contaminated by the fish that are packed in it, and so is less valuable than clean EPS.

“However, to say that it cannot be recycled is not true – and if organisations were to, quite literally, think outside of the EPS box, then there are solutions.

“We all know that London is packed full of restaurants, and it should not be impossible for these chefs to get together to make collection of this material worthwhile in such a densely populated restaurant scene.

“We’d be happy to help them investigate how to get this material recycled, in return for a nice meal at one of their restaurants!

“We should also be wary of looking at alternatives, as we know that the cardboard sector does not like contamination, and reinforced cardboard might end up being harder to recycle than the EPS,” he warned.

International Forest Products European Trade Director and The Recycling Association board member Amie Stringer added: “It is always the same that quality is king when it comes to any recyclable material.

“But recycling of EPS is always possible if the supplier of the material cares enough to make it happen. For example, Billingsgate fish market in London has its own successful EPS recycling scheme.

“There is no reason why these boxes cannot be recycled by the chefs, as long as they get the right collection scheme in place, especially if these restaurants were prepared to pay a little bit more to get it collected.”