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WI flexes muscles over excess packaging - COMMENT UPDATE

Womens Institute (WI) direct action is being considered following the success of last years Packaging Day of Action, when members returned excessive packaging directly to supermarkets.

Members calls for a repeat day were mentioned during a speech about the campaign by Public Affairs Committee member Jean Sheppard at the recent Total Processing and Packaging conference in Birmingham.

Sheppard also mentioned that the organisation was concerned about the amount of food waste that the UK generates but added that the WI would continue to concentrate on packaging.

The campaign was launched by the WI in 2005 but Sheppard said it had not been easy to get retailers to take its concerns seriously. This changed when the organisation held its Packaging Day of Action on 20 June 2006. More than 100 events were organised by some of the 211,000 members of the WI.


I was there when this speech was made, and examples of 'gratuitous packaging' were paraded, which lead to the now infamous 'Banana Metaphor'. Because, in the spirit of my own education and informing the public, I asked why a cited pack of bananas was indeed so wastefully wrapped in plastic. It seemed odd to go to the expense of doing so if it was not necessary. Considering that meetings had been held with everyone from Gordon Brown to Terry Leahy by the WI, I was a little perturbed that despite the leap to high-profile criticism, no one seemed to have tried to find out why, or derived a satisfactory answer. Those my question derived from the floor ranged from protection from organic rotting gases to preventing food waste from singletons dropping from hands and being deemed consumer unacceptable. Both, potentially environmentally sound, if true, I'd hazard, but I am still unsure as the very industry that handles this seemed to have differing explanations in justification. One statistic, also needing confirmation, that did strike me was that food waste represents 95% of total vs. 5% from packaging, and hence one wonders why more effort should not be devoted to reducing this first?
Posted by Junkk Male

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