Plastic fork firm redundancies blamed on supermarket ‘greenwashing’

Plastech Moulding, based in Horsham St Faith, and managing director Stephen Rundle.

Plastech Moulding, based in Horsham St Faith, which previously made 60 million foldable plastic forks for supermarkets. Inset, managing director Stephen Rundle. - Credit: Stephen Rundle

A company producing plastic forks for supermarket snacks is making most of its workforce redundant after the government announced plans to ban single-use plastic items.

Plastech Moulding, based in Horsham St Faith, previously made 60 million foldable plastic forks a year but is set to make 15 out of its 19 employees redundant after seeing orders reduced to zero. 

Plastech Moulding

Plastech Moulding, based in Horsham St Faith, is set to make 15 out of 19 employees redundant after seeing plastic fork orders reduced to zero. - Credit: Stephen Rundle

Managing director Stephen Rundle said they had been told last week that its main supermarket client is replacing plastic with wooden forks imported from China.

“The effect on us is devastating,” he said. “We have lost 100pc of our business overnight. We got no notice it has literally been full stop. 

“The factory is standing idle and I have 15 people now set to lose their jobs for reasons not based on fact, just a knee-jerk reaction.”

Plastic forks

Plastech Moulding has been told its supermarket client is replacing plastic forks with wooden alternatives imported from China. - Credit: Stephen Rundle

Mr Rundle said high profile campaigns raising concerns about the sustainability and environmental impact of single-use plastics had led supermarkets to turn to alternatives.  

“There is a green-washing scenario going on where supermarkets, retailers and others want to be seen to be doing the right thing,” he said. “So without looking at the actual facts they are making sudden decisions.”

Plastech Moulding managing director Stephen Rundle.

Plastech Moulding managing director Stephen Rundle. - Credit: Stephen Rundle

Most Read

The company began producing plastic cutlery in the UK four years ago as a less environmentally damaging alternative to importing items from China, he said.  

It invested in extra machinery earlier this year so its forks could be made with biodegradable plastics. 

Last month the government announced plans to ban single-use plastic cutlery, plates and polystyrene cups as part of what it calls a "war on plastic".

Environment secretary George Eustice

Environment secretary George Eustice. - Credit: UK Parliament

A public consultation will launch in the autumn and the ban could be in place in a couple of years.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: “We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut sales by 95pc in the main supermarkets.

“Now we are looking to go a step further as we build back greener.”

Plastech Moulding

Plastech Moulding, based in Horsham St Faith, previously made 60 million foldable plastic forks a year for supermarket snacks. - Credit: Stephen Rundle

Plastech Moulding, which also makes large scale plastic parts using one of largest 3D printers in the UK and recycled materials, is now trying to plug the gap in its order books. 

“We are trying desperately to find other work so that we can keep some of our people,” said Mr Rundle.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter