Azara Blog: Supermarket packaging waste allegedly a problem

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Date published: 2006/11/13

The BBC says:

The UK's leading supermarkets have pledged to step up their efforts to cut packaging waste.

In a meeting with environment minister Ben Bradshaw, retailers agreed to look at ways of reducing food waste and making recycling information clearer.

Retailers have vowed to tackle waste, with Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury's among others making specific commitments on reducing packaging.

An estimated 60% of all food packaging is now recycled, at a cost of £1.5bn.

Retailers gave ministers an update on the progress they had made in increasing recycling and the use of degradable packaging materials.

Mr Bradshaw said positive steps had been taken, but anti-waste initiatives needed to be "more visible" to consumers.

"Until the supermarkets demonstrate clearly that they are willing to lead by example, we cannot expect consumers to get fully engaged with reducing their own waste," he said.

One recycling expert said there needed to be greater emphasis on wasteful use of energy as well as greener packaging materials.

This focus on supermarket packaging waste is just hot air to appease the chattering classes, who love to think of supermarkets as villains (since the chattering classes are anti-commercial so think all big companies are villains), and who love to think of "recycling" as wonderfully environmentally friendly (which it is not). In Cambridge the vast bulk of waste is produced by building firms, not households, and so in particular is not supermarket waste. And Bradshaw is rather taking the piss. The problem with waste is that consumers do not have to pay for its disposal, except indirectly, so they have no incentive to reduce it. Blaming supermarkets is just passing the buck, for political reasons.

Supermarkets do waste an awful lot of energy. You cannot go into one without a decent jacket on because the air conditioning is up to full and the chilled cabinets are never covered (except for the ones with frozen food). Unfortunately the chattering classes have insisted that there should be no carbon tax on electricity, so nobody is paying the correct price for electricity, so there is little incentive to reduce electricity consumption. (Instead the chattering classes get hysterical about both car drivers, who already pay a hefty carbon tax, and airline passengers, who will soon do the same.)

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