Reducing Plastic Packaging: Who is Responsible?
We all know that the excessive use of plastic packaging poses a significant problem. Our rivers, seas, beaches and countryside are being filled with non-biodegradable packaging. Greater action needs to be taken, but who is responsible? Is it down to Government policymakers, manufacturers, retailers or shoppers to reduce the consumption of plastic packaging?
Government Policy on Plastic Waste
There is no doubt that policymakers can make a difference. When laws and initiatives are in place, manufacturers and retailers have no choice but to change. A ban on the use of plastic microbeads in toiletries is one example when Government Policy has enforced change. Plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds are no longer on sale in the UK due to bans.
The Government’s long-awaited Environmental Bill promises action to tackle waste. This is just one of the issues aimed at reducing our impact on the natural world. The 2020 Bill was delayed until 26 Jan, but this has been extended further. We will have to wait to discover how it will impact businesses and consumers.
Should Manufacturers Stop Using Plastic Packaging?
We could ask why some manufacturers need environmental measures to become law before they implement change. Whilst plastic packaging is necessary for some products, switching to alternative sustainable packaging is a viable option for many.
There is plenty of good practice to draw upon. Some brands have only ever used sustainable packaging, whilst others have committed to change. As an example, Nestle™ has committed to removing 618 tonnes of plastic packaging in 2021, with its cereals range packaging being a priority for change.
Aylesbury Box Company has worked with manufacturers who are keen to reduce their environmental footprint. We offer recycled and recyclable sustainable packaging. Our bespoke cardboard packaging is suitable for fragile goods through to bulky equipment. Lightweight, yet durable, it can be branded, shaped and finished to offer protection and shelf-appeal.
Want to know more? Contact us on 01296 436888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are Supermarkets Performing on Reducing Plastic Waste?
For many years, supermarkets have been communicating their commitment to reducing plastic. Steps such as replacing polystyrene pizza disc with cardboard packaging and refill stations have made the headlines, but have they made a difference?
The reality is that there is still a long way to go. Data from the last Annual Plastics Survey (carried out by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Greenpeace) shows that the 10 leading UK supermarkets sold 900,000 tonnes of plastic in 2019. This was an increase of 1.2% compared to 2017 figures.
At the time of publishing, Aldi was recognised as having made the greatest improvement, with Waitrose having the best record and Iceland ranked tenth.
Sainsbury’s and Aldi have both committed to a 50% reduction in plastic packaging by 2025. This is a bold target, which will largely focus on own-brand ranges. Should supermarkets put more pressure on suppliers, such as favouring those who are also implementing positive change?
Does the Consumer have any Power?
Many shoppers would like to switch away from products in plastic packaging. The challenge is that it sometimes feels as though we don’t have a choice. We like to convenience of popping to the supermarket, where many products are plastic wrapped. Are there better options?
Shopping habits changed in 2020 and a group of retailers to benefit were farm shops. In July 2020, the Farm Retail Association issued a press release stating that 92% of farm retailers had experienced a rise in custom. These local providers offered fresh, seasonal produce and an uncrowded shopping experience.
Farm shops also enable consumers to use less plastic. Food is typically sold loose, with paper bags, cardboard boxes or ‘bring your own bags’ used. Your local butcher, baker, greengrocer and deli are also more likely to stock locally-sourced goods, in sustainable packaging.
As consumers, we do have a choice. If willing to forfeit a little convenience, we could support smaller retailers and better protect the environment. Consumer influence does lead to change.
Remember your Reusable Bags!
Another shocking fact from the Annual Plastics Survey related to bags. Although the sale of single-use plastic bags was down 33% on the previous year, 1.5billion plastic ‘bags for life’ were sold instore during 2019. That equates to 57 per UK household.
The intention is for one or two of these bags to serve every household for the long term. We need to take responsibility and remember to take reusable bags when we go shopping. Carry one in your bag, your car and your coat pocket, so you are not caught without.
We are all Responsible for Positive Change
This article highlights that everyone has a role to play. Shoppers, retailers, manufacturers and Governments should all shoulder the responsibility. Destroying the natural environment will impact us all.
Aylesbury Box Company can advise on removing unnecessary layers and switching from plastic to sustainable, biodegradable cardboard packaging.