Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dump your rubbish in the supermarket

Ben Bradshaw advises food shoppers to leave excessive wrapping at the tills and to report the stores to trading standards (see here)

Highly appropriate advice from the environment minister as the vast majority of stuff which ends up in my wheelie bin probably originates from the supermarket (or more correctly its suppliers) in the first place.

I was amazed to see that packaging had increased by 12% between 1999 and 2005, and now accounts for one-third of an average household's total waste. I suspect it makes up more than one third of my waste but the fact that it has increased at all despite the focus on waste reduction over the last few years is worrying.

If a significant number of people opt to take the ministers advice I don’t think it will be long before the supermarkets start to work with their suppliers to greatly reduce the monstrous amount of packaging which we all carry home with us and then promptly chuck in the bin.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just to play devils advocate:

Using more packaging can mean food keeps longer. Thus reducing waste, meaning the environmental impact of the food industry is lower...

This is a possible situation. Less wastage of food is definitely the case in the US cf Mexico, although perhaps refrigeration and freezing has an effect too...

Its just very difficult to analyze all this. The total lifecycle needs to be taken into account. Similarly, biodegradable packaging release more greenhouse gases over its lifecycle...

The environment is complex, far more complex than pressure groups would have us believe (nice simple messages are easy to get across).
Then again, buying fruit and veg unpackaged makes sense to me. Its cheaper and you can buy just what you need to minimise waste. There's little else I consider being over packaged.

Jock Coats said...

I don't know how true it is, but I was told years ago now that in germany shoppers have long had the right to leave surplus packaging at the store for them to dispose of. Though some caution is needed of course - we don't all want to take an hour in the queue at the check-out!

Of course if the food we buy actually looked like it should then we would need less packaging that seems simply to be there to show you how it might have looked if you had made it yourself from fresh!

Tony Ferguson said...

Don't get me started on cookery books which use fake techniques to get food to look good for a photo shot - there's a case for either Trading standards or the advertising standards people to get involved. I guess the question of packaging from shops and supermarkets is one of how much is needed. Anyone with young children will know how much packaging waste can be produced at Christmas time. I still feel that food consumption produces too large a percentage of my household waste but maybe it is just the large number of teenagers!

Nicola said...

We should be buying local food from local shops in brown paper bags.

DON'T start me on the rest of the waste our over consumeristic society consumes