Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pushing my BTNN's

A new year; a new acronym. Well, the first one of the new year more like.

Emma has forwarded me a press release that was surely destined to push all my 'Better Than Nothing. Not?' buttons and get me all in a tizz about the pros and the cons of it all.

Basically, in an edited form, I was exposed to the following:

 H J Heinz, Northern Foods, Geest Mariner Foods and International Food Partners (IFP) are among those granted UK public funds yesterday to develop less wasteful packaging.

The current tranche of about £500,000 (€728,000) in funding from government's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is meant to encourage food and packaging companies to invest in more environmentally friendly containers for their products.

WRAP announced grants yesterday for seven projects to reduce household packaging and food waste from an £8 million fund directed at sparking innovation by companies.

Launched in November 2004, WRAP's innovation fund aims to reduce the amount of household food and packaging waste originating from the retail sector and ends up in the household bin. The new contracts announced yesterday take the number of projects to seventeen, with a combined investment of about £2 million.

WRAP's research indicates that 40 per cent of the contents of the average household bin originates from supermarket shelves. WRAP has set targets to reduce such waste by 310,000 tonnes through the fund.

Now anything that gets us to a better environmental situation is to be applauded, but there are the small matters of the cost/benefit ratios and who gains and who actually pays. 

I'll have to admit to being a sensitive soul here, as has seen itself politely sidelined on grant monies more than once 'because we're commercial'. Which we are, by virtue of having an advertising model. But then we don't charge the consumer (they who stump up UK public funds) anything.

So if not commercial, what exactly are major blue-chip manufacturers and retailers to enjoy such largesse? Because I don't recall getting my beans for free. 

And if the packaging currently being used is 'wasteful', then surely it simply makes financial sense to seek an alternative. So maybe it's more a case of  what the public will swallow?

So I just have to wonder if instead of public money, these guys shouldn't be spending their own, which may inspire some real commitment to getting it all a bit more competitive, consumer-focussed and with some joined up behaviours between the techy Morlocks in the 4th basement of the factory, and the Eloi in marketing.

Because I'd like to see genuine commercial efforts being made to sell me on stuff that is good for the environment and I'll vote with my conscience and my wallet. Taking money from me to help someone charge me to buy their stuff smacks of taking from Peter to pay Paul, HJ, Marks, etc.