Crisp packets get new life as covers for band's CDs

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The Independent Online

The metallic silver CD cover looks as striking as any other single stacked on the shelf of a music store.

But on closer inspection, it turns out that the CD, the first release from a group called Recoup, is encased inside an empty crisp packet which would otherwise not be recyclable. The packaging, which chimes with the environmental message delivered in the band's song "Remind You", was the brainchild of the lead singer's girlfriend, who urged the group to develop an "eco-friendly consciousness".

Majken Moller, 30, a passionate environmentalist, dreamt up the idea to package her boyfriend Pieter Theron's first single in a crisp packet by turning it inside out. Mr Theron, 33, said he followed her advice to think "laterally and be creative" with consumer packaging. He hopes the move will create a new "eco-army" of music fans.

"You get bands with eco-friendly messages but if you buy their CDs, they are made of pure plastic. You feel like saying 'go and clean up your own house first'.

"This is one solution but there is the potential for larger bands to think of 100 other environmentally-friendly ways to sell CDs that haven't previously been thought about. The amount of pure plastic jewel cases that are used in a single day is in the millions. We came up with a better solution and the size of a crisp packet turned out to be perfect for holding a CD," he said.

The band, which has a distribution deal with Universal, consists of Alida Stadler, a drummer and music teacher, guitarist Mat Wood who also works as a sound engineer, and Mr Theron, a financial analyst for an investment bank. Over the years they have developed a "green aspect" to their lyrics.

The theme of the single, which will be released in March, focuses on the damaging effects of the world's carbon footprint on the planet's natural resources. "I wrote the song and at the back of my mind was the idea that people were destroying the world," Mr Theron said.

The video, currently being edited, features a man returning from a future laid waste by decades of damage, to warn mankind of the destruction. "We wanted to remind people of what they're doing and say that if you continue with this, what is going to happen?" Mr Theron said.

"We... show people that in a 100 years the world could be a completely different place where people have to wear gas masks."

He added that the group decided to package the song in a crisp package to make a bold environmental statement. "Crisp packets were hard to recycle because they are made from a combination of plastic and aluminum and they are expensive to separate," he said. "They take ages to biodegrade in a landfill site so they are durable and the perfect shape for a CD case. When you turn them inside out, you can't see the brand and we stuck a recyclable label on the front with the band and single's name on it."

The packets for the limited edition 3,000 CDs were collected by Ms Stadler, who teaches at Curwen Primary School in Newham, east London, from her class of 10-year-olds.

Triple protection for child's dinner set

Dominique Holt contacted The Independent to complain about a Marks & Spencer's Paint Your Own Dinner Set, which her six-year-old daughter received as a present. The set contained a small plate, a cup, a bowl, and six paints.

"I could not believe the packaging involved," said Mrs Holt. "It came in a thick, clear plastic box measuring 24x18x25cm. Within this were another four thick, heavy plastic mouldings that held the crockery in place. Last, there was an 84x24cm piece of decorated card wrapped around the whole lot, with a separate A5 paper instruction booklet."

Marks & Spencer defended the packaging: "Health and safety is of paramount concern when it comes to children's products. This particular product was packaged to ensure it remained protected during transportation and that the china would not be broken when opened.

"However, we are reviewing all of our packaging, as part of our Plan A 'eco-plan'. This includes reducing packaging by 25% over the next five years and only using materials that are recyclable or come from sustainable sources.

"We aim for our products to be suitably packaged but know we have more work to do to reduce the amount of packaging and improve the packaging materials we use."

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