Friday, June 26, 2009

RE:view - Which? does packaging

The July '09 Which Magazine is a bit of a greenie bumper edition.

I have already mentioned two other topics covered, but just as recent additions to the CATEGORY sections they complemented (see recent CARBON TRADING and PLASTIC BAGS Labels).

However, there is one main one they have tackled which, for obvious reasons, piqued my interest: PACKAGING, with a piece called 'Don't keep it under wraps'.

So, what was of note?

The first thing is that it concentrated pretty much on supermarkets and own labels. Therefore the big brands escaped investigation. You will not find Heinz or P&G or Unilever there, and that's a lot of plastic (which, at the end of the day, was the near exclusive focus).

What was interesting was when they got into 'like-for-like' comparisons on weight which, bearing in mind the constant reminders I have been getting from WRAP for donkeys on the joys and successes of lightweighting with the Courthauld Cabals , struck a few chords.

Try good old Plan A M&S bacon slice packs a stonking 40% more than Sainsbury's, and explained away as 'within expected variations'. Such airy ways with numbers might explain a few things in the boardroom of late! Or try Morrisons Cheddar slices at 86% more than 'eco-evil' Tescos.

Thing is, such specific samples and examples really don't address the overall main issue, and the piece acknowledges this and merely ends up repeating what we know and bang on about, seemingly to very deaf ears, as quangos, councils, government and big business all point at each other in tut-tutting at how tricky it is to deal with all this due to the huge variations in rules, regs and waste disposal systems.

And, often, it seems that those who often like to claim how green they are can often... slip. Don't know about you, but this latest Waitrose ad looks to me more like a plastics' packaging showcase.

What we do at Junkk can't help mitigate much either, as we are mainly here to advocate reuse. But every little bit helps:) There was a feature on a chap who Which? had asked to keep what he couldn't recycle... for a week. Well, try 5 years, and counting, as I have! I am struggling on most of these trays too, but when you have a stack 100 high of identical ones, you do start to think big. So I am getting glimmers. They are plastic, so they are invincible to weather. And they are black, so they absorb heat. You'll see where I am going. Just my luck when they all end up on biodegradables, which initially might seem a solution, but then one needs to ponder, as I have before, on what organics biodegrade to. Not easy, this being green and not just looking it.

But, for now, if anyone else has some ideas of their own, don't forget the plastics reuse competition.

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