Waste Management Challenges Retailers, Suppliers and Consumers
By Bernice Hurst, Managing Director, Fine Food Network
The path of good intentions never runs smooth, to recycle an old cliché. As more retailers, suppliers and consumers look for ways to reduce waste, the obstacles in the way of achieving that goal seem to grow increasingly problematic.
Doing the right thing when it comes to waste reduction is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. In the UK, it is more than a question of understanding the terminology and the difference between degradable, biodegradable, recyclable, renewable and compostable. It’s generally difficult, if not impossible, to identify the constitution of packaging materials.
Making matters worse, is not knowing how to properly dispose of waste materials.
If rubbish goes into the wrong type of landfill, it may not decompose for hundreds, if not thousands, of years destroying the entire object of the exercise. All the money spent on devising different ways to manufacture packaging may be completely wasted if material is not correctly disposed of.
Every local council in England has different rules. Where I live, green plastic boxes have been distributed for newspaper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum, which have been rinsed and food traces removed. They are collected each week. Bottles have to be taken to a bottle bank. Garden waste is now only collected (on alternate weeks) if we rent large wheelie bins.
Other areas collect compostable food waste, cooked and uncooked, as well as bottles but will not touch paper or card. Some areas accept tetra-packs while others do not. Some ready meal packs are made of several different types of material that have to be disposed of differently. I have recently discovered that recycled paper or cardboard packaging cannot be recycled more than once, so you need to know whether your pizza box is a first or second-timer. The quirks and variations go on ad nauseam.
Discussion Questions: What can retailers do to alleviate consumer confusion about packaging materials, their environmental impact and methods for reducing
waste? Is there a benefit to a retailer that seeks to educate consumers on waste issues and methods to reduce the associated impact on the environment? How can retailers and manufacturers
work together to reduce waste more effectively?