Waste – who is responsible?

There was an article in Business Green today which stated that leading retailers have grouped together to ask the government for new policy to ‘encourage firms to design out packaging’.

This raised a number of questions in my mind.  Firstly, who holds the key to the use of packaging?  Is it government – I don’t think so.  It is consumers, and, as we only buy what is available, then, surely retailers hold the trump card – reduce the packaging or we won’t stock your product.  Waitrose have recently moved to biodegradeable and recycled packaging, Amazon publicly stated it was going to reduce its packaging, so, surely there is good publicity to be had if these retailers move to reduce packaging rather than asking the government to make it happen.

Secondly, where do the Government’s priorities lie?  They have recently announced a review of the UK waste policy, details of the remit are yet to be announced, but they are concentrating on increasing recycling rates – because they look good, and have scrapped ideas about a pay as you throw tax, because that would be unpopular.  After all, who benefits economically from reducing waste – no one makes anything in this country, but recycling, well, that creates good headlines and, jobs in this country.  Or am I getting more cynical in my old age?

The obvious answer is to reduce packaging as it uses precious resources, including water, but the initiative should come from retailers and consumers, not from government.  This would also have the added benefit of reducing litter – a huge bugbear of mine which I think we need to tackle, not just ignore.

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