Army of Chefs Wage War on Polystyrene Waste in London

Connector Summer 2016

A selection of top British chefs have sent a letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan calling for a city-wide ban on non-biodegradable polystyrene packaging.

The letter is penned by Ed Baines, who co-owns the Randall & Aubin seafood restaurant in Soho, and is co-signed by chefs Theo Randall and Mark Hix; food critic William Sitwell, and chef-turned-eco-warrior Fearnley-Whittingstall.

It talks of the potential damage that polystyrene food packaging, coffee cups, and meat and fish trays are causing to the environment and residents’ health. City-wide use of polystyrene packaging is contributing to London’s ‘abysmal’ recycling performance, the letter claims, and the material should be outlawed in restaurants and cafes – as has been done in many American cities.

The letter addresses London Mayor Khan directly, in light of his recent electoral campaign promises to be the ‘greenest Mayor ever’.

“With my fellow signatories, I feel an obligation to take the lead from more progressive cities of the world such as San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC and call on you as the Mayor of London to introduce a ban on this unsightly and environmentally damaging method of packaging,” the letter adds.

“In London, recycling rates are lower than the UK average. As an industry and as residents of bustling Soho, we should be doing everything we can to encourage London’s bars, hotels, restaurants and shops to re-use and recycle more.”

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London 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.”

The spokesperson reiterated that any ban on polystyrene packaging would require Government legislation.

This letter is the latest in a line of public calls for action on key waste and resource efficiency isues impacting the UK food and drink and hospitality sectors.

Fearnley-Whittingstall has spearheaded the successful War on Waste campaign against packaging and food waste, recently bringing to light the ‘misleading’ recycling claims being made by coffee shop chains regarding the recyclability of coffee cups.