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Environment-friendly packaging set to sweep supermarkets

By Greg Pitcher

A packaging revolution will be ignited by the £8 million fuse lit by the Government, according to several key figures.

The Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund was launched last week to reduce the packaging going to landfill by 310,000 tonnes by March 2006.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is taking bids from projects aiming to produce more sustainable product casings.

Major stores have joined the market-development body in backing the fund to outdo its target and lead to major changes in packaging design.

A WRAP spokesman told MRW: This fund will stimulate significant innovation in the UK retail sector by showing real design opportunities and cost savings to consumers, retailers and their supply chains.

The aim is to embed environmental considerations into retail product and packaging design and we believe it will encourage widespread take up of new ideas.

Tesco non-executive chairman David Reid said: I welcome and support the fund, both in my Tesco role and as vice president of the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

Innovation is key to growth and profitability for both retailers and suppliers and this fund will help us develop new packaging and product designs while minimising household waste.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general Kevin Hawkins added: The BRC fully supports the launch of the fund and would encourage all those involved in the design of packaging for the retail sector to apply.

This fund will create the opportunity to make major advances in the retail arena to the benefit of the environment and the sector as a whole.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley, who launched the Innovation Fund, said: This is a major step forward in reducing the 30 million tonnes of household waste produced every year. I am delighted the retail sector has thrown its weight behind this ground-breaking initiative.

WRAP research showed that around half of household waste in landfill sites is packaging from supermarkets and convenience stores.

WRAP chief executive Jennie Price said: Many consumers are becoming more aware of how much rubbish they are generating. They are recycling more and more but there is relatively little they can do to control how the goods they buy are presented and packaged.

Supermarkets and their supply chains have a major influence on what ends up in the household dustbin, and WRAP is looking forward to working with them to develop innovative products and packaging to reduce waste.

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