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Sustaining the debate on packaging

What’s in a word? The extent to which packaging is or is not ‘sustainable’ has been widely debated in our industry this week.

As MRW reports, a report from the consultants PwC argues the term ‘sustainable packaging’ is irrelevant. It says the phrase detracts from what should be a wider goal of maximizing sustainability throughout the entire supply chain. ‘Efficient packaging’ is preferred, although there must be a danger of subjectivity as to what it is efficient and by what criteria. Indeed, there are businesses in our sector which claim it is possible to have sustainable packaging.

Perception of waste and recycling for the average Briton (if there is such a person) typically comes from domestic collections and the goods they bring into their homes. It would be wrong if a new emphasis on packaging earlier in the cycle rebounded on consumers burdened by unnecessary packaging when they leave their local stores. As council tax-payers, they are already contributing to its collection and processing and are sceptical enough that food needs to be wrapped in plastic or appliances need quite so much cardboard.

Packaging Federation chief executive Dick Searle has hailed the report and urged greater efforts to cut food waste – waste that is often reduced by protective (and often unsustainable) film etc. The debate will go on. 

Finally, we are all looking forward to meeting friends of MRW at the annual National Recycling Awards on Tuesday evening. Don’t miss next week’s special round-up of the winners.

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