Energy drinks and packaging to face scrutiny from MPs

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Energy drinks and packaging to be looked at by MPs
Energy drinks and packaging to be looked at by MPs
Parliamentary scrutiny of the food manufacturing sector is set to focus on energy drinks and packaging waste.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has announced it will hold an inquiry into the consumption of energy drinks. It said it would look into the potential physical and mental health effects of energy drinks on children and young adults.

It also outlined plans to cover the marketing of energy drinks and look into evidence as to whether drinking these products could affect behaviour. In addition, there would be scrutiny of what controls, regulations or awareness-raising are in place for energy drinks.

Young people

“We know that young people in the UK are the biggest consumers of energy drinks in Europe for their age,” ​said MP Norman Lamb, chair of the committee. “We need to understand how the caffeine and sugar in energy drinks might cause negative health outcomes.”

“Should it be for retailers to decide which products can be sold on health grounds? Our inquiry will consider the evidence and set out what needs to be done by the Government, the industry and others.”

The committee is calling for written evidence on the issue by Friday, 6 April.

Meanwhile, the National Audit Office (NAO) has announced it will launch a review of the Government’s oversight of the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) scheme. This work will take place following a request from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which has concerns that the system could be subject to fraud and non-compliance.

Packaging

Companies handling any form of packaging, such as plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, must ensure that a certain proportion is recycled under the PRN scheme. They meet these obligations by buying recovery notes from recycling companies in the UK, or from companies that export waste for recycling abroad.

In recent inquiries, the EAC raised concerns about the lack of transparency over how recovery note revenue was spent.​ The committee asked the NAO to assess whether Government has good oversight of the scheme and whether it had taken a robust approach to preventing fraud and non-compliance.  

“Packaging waste is contributing to the ever-growing levels of plastic pollution in the UK and abroad. PRNs are intended to make companies do their bit for recycling, but there is significant concern that PRNs are distorting the market in favour of exports rather than reprocessing in the UK,”​ said Mary Creagh, chair of the EAC.  

"The NAO review will give my committee an insight into the effectiveness of the PRN system, enabling us to assess whether the Government is taking the right action to ensure high levels of recycling in the UK.

Related topics: Regulation

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