Will the Government’s new packaging strategy have a real impact? It’s difficult to say.

As a result of plans announced by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn today (9 June 2009), it is claimed consumers will see a major overhaul of all packaging over the next decade,
The new packaging strategy, ‘Making the Most of Packaging’, looks at the packaging of the future and what our shop shelves and kitchen cupboards should look like if we cut the amount of packaging produced, used and thrown away, and increase the amount recycled.

Mr Benn says: “We need to rethink the way we deal with packaging, from production line to recycling bin. The plans we’ve announced today set out how we will achieve that – with the goal of making it as easy as possible for consumers to avoid needless packaging in the first place and to get rid of what they do receive in a way that doesn’t just create more landfill.”

Hats off to Mr Benn the new strategy builds on much of the good work already undertaken by the Government through WRAP especially where he talks about encouraging better packaging design.

But let’s not forget that the packaging industry in conjunction with brand owners and many retailers has already delivered many sustainable innovations and continues to do so.

In fact the current economic conditions, the long-term rise in material costs and the widely recognised economic and environmental benefits of more sustainable production, mean that the

Government is pushing at an open door. The packaging industry is well on the way to delivering ever better packaging.

Unfortunately Mr Benn also announced initiatives such as making it easier to take action against manufacturers of excess and unnecessary packaging and encouraging consumers to report excessive packaging to Trading Standards.

Mr Benn’s new strategy will succeed best not by pointing the finger at poor performers, but by creating a positive environment in which innovation is encouraged and where the wider environmental and economic benefits that good packaging delivers is recognised and celebrated.

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