Dave's eco-nomics: Ditch the packaging


Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

These days, it seems that packaging outweighs product. Just think of the bag, box and bottle combos at the cosmetics counter. But it's not just the quantity - we're using the wrong materials, too. According to a Local Government Association study, 38% of packaging in the UK is non-recyclable. Lidl is the biggest offender in terms of sheer volume of the stuff (813g per basket of groceries); but M&S, of the righteous Plan A, is the main perpetrator: 62% of its packaging cannot be recycled.


Follow Europe's lead. Retailers on the Continent contribute to the cost of waste collection and recycling, which deters them from producing excess packaging. Resist the urge to bulk up for branding reasons, and see whether you can reduce waste by eliminating production problems - influence your suppliers and handle materials more carefully. Investigate ways of selling your product in re-usable containers, such as Waitrose's milk eco-pouch and reusable jug (recyclable and using 75% less plastic than a plastic bottle). Some packaging is necessary: certain foods need wrapping to preserve freshness and prevent contamination. But a range of eco-friendly packaging materials is available, such as the cost-effective and fully biodegradable eco-pack. One day, the cling-filmed coconut will be a thing of the past.

Greenie points (out of 10)

Four: think instead of the box...

Dave Waller is MT's resident eco foil.

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