In a bid to promote itself as one of the more eco-friendly and environmentally aware supermarkets, Sainsbury’s has managed to create some controversy with its announcement that it’s moving its Basics canned tomatoes into cartons, part of its attempt to cut its packaging weight by a third by 2015.
Whilst you can’t knock the supermarket chain for taking the initiative and demonstrating its commitment to the environment (although let’s not forget this is driven by the imposed light-weighting targets), it’s equally important that people such as Nick Mullen from the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association are taking a stance on this and publically reminding key industry stakeholders of the potential issues that surround presenting one packaging material as environmentally superior to another.
As a result of this quick action, Sainsbury’s immediately issued a statement to confirm that this move doesn’t signal the end of the can for them. All good and well although, many would argue, the damage is already done. Short term, this is probably true. However, it’s a far wider and longer-term issue that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders.
We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that each material has its own unique environmental attributes. One of the key green credentials for metal is the low residual waste that is a result of high recycling rates and their associated carbon credits that are vitally relevant, as opposed to the weight of packaging brought to market.
Any pack mix decisions that purport to be made on environmental grounds that do not include this vital element are deceiving themselves and only helping to confuse consumers. Still, a decision has been made in this instance and, ironically, due to the immediate criticism and reactive comment from Sainsbury’s Head of Packaging, this move has indirectly generated debate on the importance of a better understanding of the contribution each packaging material can make towards sustainability goals rather than seeing ‘easy’ solutions by changing to alternative materials.
2010 will prove an interesting year for the aluminum sector with recycling targets set to increase shortly – and significantly if industry expectations are correct.
With Environment Minister, Dan Norris, determined to quite rightly push the UK as a strong contender in the European ‘champion’s league’ for recycling packaging, the industry is bracing itself for considerable changes. A consultation on packaging targets for the period between 2011 to 2020 is due to take place in early 2010 so the industry is currently preparing itself for the increased pressure. The current 40% target for this year looks like it may be dwarfed by a suggested 75% for upcoming years.
75% is a tall order. But we must put this in perspective. Overall, we’re not doing badly as a nation as over 60% of packaging waste is now recycled in the UK. However, this is only mid-table compared to other European countries. We need to improve on what we’ve started and beverage can recycling can certainly lead the way here with its obvious recycling benefits such as cube efficiency and lightweight nature. Programmes such as Every Can Counts are beginning to have a real impact nationwide on ‘away from home’ recycling, demonstrating just how easy it can be to dispose of your can in an environmentally way when on the move.
It’s a case of watch this space – but it may just be what we need to really start being taken seriously as a green nation.
Happy New Year to everyone! Now we’re all back at work, Christmas is beginning to turn into a distant memory. So what are some of our memories from this hugely anticipated festive event? Opening cards, unwrapping presents, eating and drinking copious amounts perhaps…
As fun as this can be, from an environmental and sustainable perspective, Christmas can create an awful lot of unnecessary waste if you think about all the empty drinks cans, food packaging and wrapping paper alone. That said, I think the majority of us are getting significantly better on the recycling front. The environment and sustainability is certainly moving back up people’s agendas after the end of a year that saw much debate around the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, a heated debate around the landfill ban issue and the government’s packaging strategy.
From my own experience, my family, friends and neighbours were all definitely making far more of a concerted effort to recycle all the waste. On a wider scale, people have even got impressively creative in their recycling – for example, one environmentally-conscious guy created the ultimate eco-friendly Christmas tree purely out of fizzy drink cans. His fabulous ‘fir’ has now proved so popular, he has quite the following on Facebook and MySpace. A little closer to home, one family has put us all to shame by putting just one rubbish bin out for collection in the whole of 2009! Very impressive when you consider the uproar that went on when councils tried to make some collections bi-weekly. This families’ achievements pay testament to what can be achieved through due diligence, passion and persistency as well as a genuine concern for the planet.
The only disappointment that I witnessed this holiday – and have subsequently read about in the nationals – was the lack of support from some of our councils when it came to taking away our hard-sorted, festive recycling. I noticed that my grandparent’s local council was throwing all the contents of both rubbish and recycling into the same lorry. Somewhat frustrating and de-motivating to those others who noticed the same thing.
If we’re going to seriously make a difference to the climate then we all need to buy-into making our lifestyles more sustainable and green with no exception. Hopefully this was a one-off blip that won’t happen again in this new, refreshingly green decade.