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Retailers and producers must pay for unnecessary packaging, say councils

The Local Government Association said the cost of throwing away unnecessary packaging should be put on retailers and manufacturers to help save shoppers money.

In response to the Packaging Strategy launched last week by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the LGA said that it cost councils up to £100 million to get rid of packaging and producers should be picking up more of this cost.

In the Packaging Strategy, Defra calls on businesses and local authorities to maximise the recycling of waste packaging by treating it as a resource.

The LGA said that the Packaging Strategy did not go far enough in setting tough targets for retailers and manufacturers to tackle problem packaging. As well as tougher recycling targets on the producers of packaging, councils want to see retailers commit to using more recycled material in their packaging and to improve labelling indicating which packaging can be recycled.

LGA chairman Paul Bettison said: At a time when were in recession and shoppers are feeling the pinch, we have to move on from a world that tolerates costly shrink wrap on tins of baked beans. Families are fed up with having to carry so much packaging home from the shops.
Just last week one big supermarket was advertising its budget range with colourful pictures of carrots and pears in unnecessary plastic bags. Much of this packaging exists purely so that retailers can put their logos everywhere but it is shoppers who pay the price at the till and when they throw it away.

If retailers and manufacturers start paying the true price for their unnecessary packaging, theyll have a real incentive to get rid of it altogether. Better labelling of whether packaging is recyclable would make things easier for shoppers who want to do the right thing for the environment and help keep their council tax down.

In contrast, the British Retail Consortium said that retailers should not be blamed for excessive packaging and that local authorities should improve kerbside collection of recyclable materials. The BRC also said that councils should build new recycling facilities capable of handling a wider variety of materials.


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