Packaging seeks to reduce waste

The UK Government Association issued a report criticising the supermarkets’ record on packaging, stating that ‘excessive’ use of food packaging is undermining householders’ efforts to recycle and is adding to council tax bills. However, without a pack to protect goods, more waste is generated due to damage and spoilage.

The War on Waste report appears to show that the proportion of packaging which can be recycled has changed little. However, the survey compares products in different packs to previous reports so it is difficult to draw reliable conclusions.

Packaging seeks to reduce waste, and food packaging is an important component of food distribution, without which levels of waste, and the consequent burden on landfill, would increase substantially. With local councils running differing waste management strategies, consumers are left confused about what can and cannot be recycled. The situation needs joined up thinking between all stakeholders – raw material suppliers, packaging companies, retailers, local authorities/government and re-processors to find the best waste management strategies.

The packaging industry and supermarkets have a good record on reducing the weight of packaging as well as finding ways to increase shelf-life and reduce product waste. Initiatives from the Packaging Recycling Action Group and the Courtauld Commitment are making excellent progress on improving packaging’s environmental impact and reducing product waste. In terms of energy consumption, the latter has a far greater impact on the environment.