Letter: Packaging that costs a packet

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The Independent Online
Sir: 'Even unto the yoghurt pot' (16 July) highlights the real 'purpose' of packaging - the pounds 5bn a year business that profits the packaging industry. It certainly does not benefit the consumer. We pay pounds 10 out of every pounds 65 shopping bill for packaging, most of which is not required for keeping foodstuffs fresh. We pay again at the end of the cycle when the mostly superfluous packaging has to be disposed of.

In its original form, the proposed EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste embraced the goals of actually reducing waste. Return and refill systems, phasing out of hazardous materials such as PVC, the banning of packaging systems that cause problems in recycling into identical new products - these were all present.

However, in the final draft many of these teeth have been removed. Now it states that there must be no discriminating between packaging materials (so refill systems will not benefit); that countries which go further than the letter of the directive may be prosecuted for infringement of free trade; that toxic additives will be restricted by an arbitrary cumulative total; that incineration is of equal value to recycling. These measures will not actually reduce the amount of packaging coming into our shops and supermarkets. It is worrying to think that the European Community may soon act as a brake on environmental measures taken by individual states.

It is now up to MEPs and environment ministers to reverse the directive before it is ratified and demand that the original goals for reducing packaging waste are reinstated.


Packaging Campaigner

The Women's Environmental


London, N5

17 July