It was too good to throw away

… I had just finished a bowel of something that appeared healthy on the outset but for some reason I think I placed too many sultana into the mix. You guessed right, it was breakfast time and as the last few flakes of this bran/sultana/multi-seed based muesli poured out from the cereal carton all that remained was a strong attractive container. Although I could see it as a future reusable container.

Unfortunately, the food manufacturers probably had not. To them it was simply a solid piece of well designed, colourful and structured card. The containers role in life was limited. Consider the container to similar to the famous futuristic drama – Logan (from Logan’s run). In that storyline once you reach a certain age you were assumed to be terminated. In the case of the box, once the cereal/ muesli had finished, its shell was assumed to be discarded.

Interestingly, it is claimed by environmentalists and researchers that, big name grocers last year produced over 88,000 tonnes of weekly household waste – 4.6m tonnes per year – is generated from groceries and their packaging.

Clearly a government directive is required to use only compostable and recyclable materials. In addition, it has been suggested that consumers should be charged for plastic bags and policies should be implemented for donating waste to food charities or composting sites. I do not think we should have yet another tax. Instead we need transparency in the system, urging supermarkets to publish packaging and food waste strategies.

In summary, three clear areas of abusers materialise: 1. The food manufacturers 2. The outlets for living with / puttng up with manufacturers that use wasteful shipping packaging and 3. Us, the consumer. With regard to the latter, why is it that we are not demanding enough for the reduction of waste and more consistent policies. Take for example, where one council collects and processes plastic materials (bottles) and a neighbouring one will not. If it is a question of investment in the right tools, maybe some subsidies for buying such equipment or centralisation of process plants can occur.

Maybe part of the problem is that many refuse and recollection service organisations are outsourced facilities management organisations?

The Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a not-for-profit organisation funded by the British government, has been working with retailers on the issue of packaging reduction. It encourages companies to tap into its £8million (€11.8m) innovation fund to reduce packaging, production and transport costs and encourage corporate social responsibility gains. So far thirteen retailers have pledged interest in the scheme, including Asda, Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose, and global manufacturers such as Heinz are also benefiting from the ‘green grants’.

Is it not amazing and sad to see how money motivates rather than humankind considering that ‘waste not want not’ is a better approach. If we start to consider the environmental impact hopefully we can be more respectful about the wasted efforts of the marketers. Just as important is to respect the Earth now rather than be blind about the future. Today the Earth simply drops in our eyes as a contribution to sustaining life.

Categories: Corporate Responsibility, Environmental, Ethics

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