Minister urges consumers to dump packaging at the checkout

Ben Bradshaw, the Minister responsible for waste issues, has told consumers if they are unhappy with excessive packaging on supermarket products, they should unwrap them at the checkout and leave the unwanted rubbish for the shop to deal with.

Speaking to journalists following a meeting with the UK's biggest 13 grocery retailers and WRAP's chief executive Jennie Price, Mr Bradshaw said retailers had talked about their commitment to reducing packaging waste, but now it was time for action.

"Unnecessary and excessive packaging and waste contributes to dangerous climate change. It also adds to the cost to local authorities and the public of managing waste," said the Minister.

"I am impressed by the commitment that has been shown over the past year by retailers, but the action has to go further and has 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."

The meeting was held to discuss the progress of the Courtauld Commitment (see related story), an ongoing agreement that sees Government and food retailers working towards the reduction of waste from the sector.

At the meeting, Jennie Price announced that three major brands - Heinz, Northern Foods and Unilever - have now signed up to the Courtauld Commitment and emphasised the level of engagement that will be needed to deliver real change in the future.

"Consumers are making a significant contribution to tackling the nation's waste by embracing recycling and we are now looking to the retailers to step up and play their part by helping to design out waste before it happens.

"We need to reverse the trends that have led to our 'throw away' habits. The retail sector has an enormous capacity to influence and innovate in this area, and the real impact will come when the commitment to reducing packaging and food waste becomes 'business as usual'. This is what we expect to see moving forward and the willingness of leading brands to come on board is extremely welcome as it increases the momentum and draws in the wider supply chain."

Sam Bond


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