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19 May 2017

Pringles and Lucozade still don't get it.

prod_img-2927296_pringles_original_190g_enI love it when serious Sustainability issues hit the mainstream and yesterday's public shaming of Pringles and Lucozade Sport for difficult-to-recycle packaging across mainstream media channels really hit the button. What brought my initial excitement down was the begrudging response from the companies (quoted from The Guardian):

A Pringles spokesman said: “We take our responsibilities to the planet we all share seriously and are continuously working to improve our environmental performance. All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to protect the chips from environmental contamination and to keep them fresh. The freshness of our chips means a longer shelf life, which minimises food waste.”

This is indeed true, but there is an implicit 'or' in there (I don't like 'or's, they suck). Many manufacturers produce packaging which protects against food wastage AND are easy to recycle. Try harder!

Lucozade said it recognised its environmental responsibilities and had reduced its use of plastic in bottles by 540 tonnes over the last year. A spokesman added: “We welcome any technological breakthroughs that support this ambition.”

Two problems here. First, how significant is 540 tonnes? How many tonnes of Lucozade Sport bottles are produced every year? Without that context, this statement is greenwash.

But it's the final quote that really bothers me – the plastic sleeve which renders the bottle hard to recycle is a design choice by Lucozade, it is not an inherent property of the bottle. It is Lucozade's social responsibility to design that problem out, not anybody else's as implied by the quote. Get your finger out!

Hopefully both these defences are just that and the campaign will have both companies' (and others') product designers working overtime to square these circles. I'm always optimistic...

 

 

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30 July 2012

Green must not mean shoddy

Last Friday I popped into a high street stationers to pick up some printer paper. They only had two packs of recycled paper and both had split crumpling some of the paper inside. None of the non-recycled paper had suffered the same, being in waxier wrapping. I asked an assistant whether they had any other packs and she said no, but that the packing on these was completely inadequate. She offered me a discount, which I took.

But this really annoys me. Green must not mean being offered inferior goods or services - especially from a big brand such as Xerox. There is no point whatsoever in lightweighting packaging if it doesn't protect the contents properly. A complete waste of time, effort and resources.

 

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25 May 2011

This isn't just any green packaging...

My partner bought this bottle of wine at Marks & Spencer at the weekend. If you look carefully at the pic, you'll see that the bottle is made of plastic.

This is great from an environmental point of view. Glass is heavy, leading to increased emissions during transportation. While it is recyclable, here in the UK we import huge quantities of green glass in the form of wine bottles, but we don't have the need for it in our own packaging industries leading to a geographical imbalance. The plastic bottle is made of 25% recycled content and could either be recycled locally into a different form or exported much more efficiently.

So what's the hitch? Well, frankly, it feels a bit odd pouring decent wine from a plastic bottle. It squeezes in your hand and you don't get the same impression of quality that the solid heft of a glass bottle gives. So it may take some time to get used to it.

Wisely Marks & Spencer have chosen to market the bottle as "shatter-proof" and particularly suitable for outdoor dining - turning the potential negative into a positive. This gives them a chance to get the product out into the market and get people used to the new way of doing things. A sensible tactic worth considering for any green product.

BTW: Marks & Spencer and their Plan A sustainability programme feature in my latest book, The Green Executive.

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5 January 2011

Rubbish packaging claims?


The UK's packaging regulations certainly seem to be starting to bite with even my cat food bragging about a 10% cut in cardboard. I like the way they're 'bundling' the (rather modest) environmental improvement with the benefit of less space taken up in your shopping bag, but bemused by the fact that they feel they have to remind the consumer that it hasn't changed the "great taste" of the product...


Rather underwhelming is this claim on a Sainsbury's juice carton that a minor change has cut 65 tonnes by redesigning their ringpulls. Sainsbury's are a bit coy about how much packaging goes through their stores, but extrapolating figures from their last CR report suggests it is in the region of 182,000 tonnes a year. So the 65 tonnes represents just 0.036% of their total - hardly anything to brag about.

If I were Sainsbury's I would put this in the context of their wider achievements - something like "It is innovations like this that have helped us cut 8,000 tonnes of packaging per year from our products." It has to be said that the 8,000 tonnes still only represents 4.4% of the total - making even the catfood look good!

All in all, these green claims are a bit weak, mainly because the underlying achievements are rather modest. They need to do something worth boasting about first or their efforts will simply disappear into the fug of similar claims.

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21 April 2010

Waitrose's bags of milk flop


It was no surprise to me that Waitrose's "eco-friendly" bags of milk have not sold and, ironically, led to lots of wasted milk. Simple question for Waitrose "Who on earth would buy milk in a bag?". How do you open them without spurting milk over your kitchen floor? Why would someone put up with this to go a tiny bit greener? Just "why"?

Back to the drawing board...

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