Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rose-tinted reporting

I am awaiting the BBC Breakfast News to wheel out Sir Michael Rose of M&S to share with us the exclusive news that his dealing with the plastic bags issue.

Now, one could wonder why him, again, when many others are already doing so. But hey.

There are a few other matters I wrote to ask in hope we get get reporting rather than propagandising, especially as a few questions were posed by earlier consumers:

Re: Why not biodegradable plastic bags? Why not paper?

Good questions all. Maybe as a retail expert Sir. Stuart Rose can answer?

Or explain how charging 5p prevents a bag getting into the ecosphere and choking a turtle?

I don't know, which is why I'd like answers.

Are you going to feature other industry experts to cover the whole issue?

*ps: I'm trying to find out.

My information so far is biodegradables/compostables require levels of waste system complement that may not make them as effective as they can be.

Paper may actually be worse for the environment, but not for wildlife.

It probably isn't as simple as made out.


Just watched the man himself on the sofa. Interesting. I thought the plastic bag (well, no one quite seems to know what they are banning or bringing in by way of substitute) must be a dead duck by now, at least with the current level of (mostly pretty mis-informed) negative PR.

But, despite being there to plug Plan A, Sir Stuart fought a pretty good corner. Mind you, he was hijacked at the end by the reporters trying to get him to make the simplistic pledge to 'ban' them outright.

His main focus of defence was the customer is king (the issue of packaging waste vs. food waste as a consequence of cuctomer rejection came up), which is well focussed as a sales spiel, but one wonders how it went down with the PR dept. or Sustainability Manager.

What did impress is that he addressed those two questions above. In detail.

He dragged the authorities back into the recycling issue, which I am sure they are trying to duck in this big time. Also he.... at last.... raised the enviROI aspects. Sadly, of course, this is one where the environment may be split between ECO(logical) and Environmental, at least if one still accepts there are ECO(nomic) drivers that are inevitable.

And he also clarified the actual limitations of many bio/compost options, though it's a shame he had no time to explain the difference betwen a landfill, an in-vessel composter and your back yard effort in dealing with them. Pretty key.

As to turtles, I'm guessing biodegradables may well be better as they must fall apart pretty quick, but as to the effect of what they break down into solution on the ecosphere (plastic soup, anyone?) I am not so sure.

All I know is that clear, balanced information on this is noticeable by its absence. You can expect, and dismiss it from the Daily Mail (though I think they have pretty much nailed the coffin of this aspect of the plastics industry with their reach and influence). I expect better from the BBC.

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