The research study was carried out in two stages.
Groups of consumers in several regions of the UK participated in discussion groups to talk about the way they used and reused different types of food packaging in their homes. The people selected for this exercise were recruited from a broad range of demographic groups to represent most sectors that typically make up the population of the UK.
The feedback collected from these focus groups gave a preliminary indication of the widespread trends in food packaging use and reuse. These findings were used to design a detailed questionnaire that was distributed to 500 households throughout the UK. People were approached to participate in the survey through various consumer organisations and through a market research agency that was sub-contracted to specifically recruit people representative of various demographic groups.
The questionnaire was completed by the person responsible for the majority of food handling and preparation in each household. The survey comprised sections representing each of the major food packaging types identified in the focus groups, namely: cans & tins, wrapping materials, glass containers, plastic bags, plastic containers and other packaging types. Within each section of the survey, questions addressed storage and cooking conditions for both new and previously used packaging materials.
Responses were analysed to investigate trends throughout the general UK population and also to look more specifically at behavioural trends in the smaller groups representative of individual demographic groups within the total population.
Food packaging is designed and tested to demonstrate that it can be used safely for its intended single use. It is generally developed for the transport, storage and/or cooking of a particular food type only. In reality however, packaging may be reused to contain types of food other than those initially intended and in some cases also for direct heating.
This survey will be undertaken to obtain information on the fate of food packaging with respect to its use, reuse and misuse within the domestic environment.
The objectives of the study are to:
Collect information available from desktop surveys on the domestic use and reuse of food contact packaging materials within the UK.
Investigate the nature and extent of domestic use and reuse of food and non-food packaging in direct contact with food, including transport, storage and food preparation, cooking and serving, in the UK.
Evaluate the significance of data gathered with respect to the potential use, misuse and reuse of packaging in the home.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.