Letter: We all subsidise the supermarket milk war

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The Independent Online
THE report of a price war between the supermarkets and its effect on the traditional milkman's deliveries brings up some very curious points ("Pinta price war puts 10,000 doorstep milkmen at risk", Business, 11 June). The supermarkets and the milkman are not competing on the famous level playing field. The milkman sells a glass bottle which is collected, washed and re-used while the supermarket product is sold in a disposable carton or non-returnable plastic bottle.

There is a significant burden associated with disposing of the supermarket carton (refuse collection, landfill sites etc). However, the cost of this is not borne by the supermarket but by the taxpayer. This means that we are subsidising the supermarkets' price war.

A simple way of avoiding this undesirable subsidy would be for local authorities to be allowed to impose a refuse disposal charge on supermarkets proportional to the number of non-returnable bottles that they sell.

Michael J Holmes

Lewes, E Sussex