Education is the answer to a more sustainable future rather than blanket negative hyperbole about plastic, a panel hosted by the SRA told the Food to Go conference.

Though the demonization of plastic has dominated the sustainable agenda over the past two years, Spencer Craig, co-founder of Pure, said he “rejected the premise of plastic reduction, which in itself is not the answer. It’s about the reduction of single use packaging, but it’s been all put on plastic. Reducing plastic and using a virgin material which can’t be recycled instead is not a solution.”

Spice Box founder Grace Regan agreed, saying there is a “lot of misinformation out there and it’s important for us as leaders to educate and inform people about what is right and good or a better option.”

She added that her business has to do the “right thing balanced with what consumers think is the right thing. For our takeaway we use paper bags and from a carbon footprint perspective, plastic bags would be eco-friendlier, but our eco-conscious customers would say ‘what the hell are you doing, this is terrible!’. So there is a constant balance between educating and learning.”

Meanwhile Jamie Crummie, co-founder and director of Too Good To Go, called for urgency, saying: “It’s not about doing it tomorrow, we need to act now, it’s easy to make small steps towards a more sustainable food system and challenging the way we consume and offer food. It’s not a case of business as usual, business has to start changing.”

Away from plastic and onto the issue of food waste, Crummie said his food saving app was saving staggering amounts of food from being binned. “Every single day what we do has a positive impact,” he said.

“We have rescued over 30 million meals from going to waste and that’s 30 million that would have been thrown away, potentially into landfill, so we have saved the resulting carbon emissions from that. Sustainability shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’ for business, and in fact our model delivers cost benefits. So it makes commercial sense to do the right thing.”