We can make a difference
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We can make a difference
Green Homes Concierge combined thinking, total energy thinking that leads to better performance and lower bills; this leads to more money for businesses, schools and hospitals.
Local Government Association (LGA): Reduce Waste
For its latest ‘War on Waste’ report, published today (17 February 2009), the LGA commissioned British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) Social Research to buy a range of 29 common food items from eight retailers. Analysis of the purchases found that local retailers and market traders produced less packaging and that more of it could be recycled with the larger supermarkets lagging behind.
BMRB Social Research found five per cent of the total weight of shopping baskets was made up of packaging. The most environmentally friendly retailers have low levels of packaging a high proportion of which is recyclable. The supermarket with the heaviest packaging was Lidl’s (799.5g), while the contents of the Marks & Spencer basket had the lowest level of packaging that could be recycled (60 per cent). Asda was the best performing supermarket, with packaging weighing 714g 70 per cent of which was recyclable. But the market was the best overall, with packaging weighing 710.5g, 79 per cent recyclable.
The LGA acknowledges that recycling rates in Britain are increasing as more people do their bit to protect the environment. Councils are also extending and improving their recycling services in a bid to reduce the amount of waste thrown into landfill sites. The LGA has warned these efforts to meet EU recycling targets will not succeed unless supermarkets do more to reduce excessive packaging.
Cllr Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, said: ‘People are working hard to increase their recycling rates, but their efforts are being hamstrung by needlessly over-packaged products on sale in supermarkets. We all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of waste being thrown into landfill, which is damaging the environment and contributing to climate change.
‘Many supermarkets are taking action to cut back on excessive packaging, but this research proves there is an urgent need to do more. Councils and council tax payers are facing fines of up to £3 billion if we do not dramatically reduce the amount of waste thrown into landfill.’
British Retail Consortium (BRC): Improve Recycling
Retailers, however, attacked the report and its findings. They argue that local authorities should themselves take action to increase recycling rates rather than push new costs onto retailers and their customers.
The BRC head of environment Bob Gordon said: “Retailers pay over £5 billion a year in business rates towards local authority funding. The biggest barrier to recycling is local authorities’ failure to agree on which materials they’re prepared to recycle.
“It’s a nonsense to suggest that retailers swathe their goods in masses of unnecessary packaging. This would simply be a pointless cost.”
Incpen director Jane Bickerstaffe poured scorn on the report, which she said was “naïve” and demonstrated “a singular lack of knowledge” of the modern supply chain. Bickerstaffe added that tackling food waste, not packaging waste, was the key issue in reducing families’ household bills.
Questions were also raised over the report’s methodology, in which the only 29 items were bought in eight supermarkets. Bickerstaffe said: “Ranking retailers on 29 products is nonsense. It’s not comparing like with like. Products have different supply chains and different amounts of transport packaging. Some products have a short shelf life, others are made to last longer. The amount of packaging has to reflect this.”
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) has estimated that families could save up to £420 per year by eliminating food waste. This compares with the LGA’s claim that councils will pay an extra £360m on landfill taxes over the coming two years.
Grownupgreen says: can’t both sides do more?
Local Councils could do more to recycle – yet retailers could do more to reduce unwanted and unnecessary packaging. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive and feedback from GuG supporters shows you are frustrated by both by excess packaging and the failure still of some Councils to recycle as much as they could (only recycling PET plastics for example, when other plastics are recyclable).
Saving energy is not just for the architectural dream houses or just for those who can afford to pay for biomass boilers and ground heat pumps, it is for us the masses.
We can make a difference by simply making sure our homes are efficient as possible. Think heating and insulation, think of water saving, think of all the things we can do to help save energy around the house, whilst saving money on our ulitity bills in 2015.