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Packaging - John C. Kirk

Apr. 9th, 2012

11:56 pm - Packaging

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Back in August 2008 I wrote about supermarkets and carrier bags. So, a few years on, how have things changed? Sadly there's been no real improvement.

* Asda previously announced that they would no longer give out ("disposable") carrier bags after 1st August 2008, so people would either have to buy a "bag for life" or bring their own bag in. They've now removed the signs, but they're still giving out free bags, so they didn't really follow through on that policy. They've exchanged my bag for life a couple of times when it's got tatty (holes), although I had to queue up at the customer service desk for a while.

* Sainsbury's still offer the same choice as before: they'll give out free bags if you want them, but they also give out Nectar points if you reuse bags. They normally ask how many carrier bags I've reused; today I filled up 2 bike panniers directly and I only got 1 point for that. Still, at least they asked me whether I wanted any carrier bags.

* Tesco (metro) still start shoving stuff into their own bags unless I actively stop them. I then have to fill the bags myself, and this recently caused a problem when I passed an item back over the scanner and got charged twice for it. The checkout guy corrected that, but it was an extra faff. I haven't tried using my store card there, so I can't comment on points for bag reuse.

Basically, I don't think we can rely on the supermarkets to voluntarily reduce carrier bags, so we'll need the government to implement some kind of "bag tax", e.g. charging people 5p/bag. Wales have already done this, and the EU ran a consultation last year but I can't find the results.

On a similar note, I recently replaced my TV and DVD player, so I went to Richer Sounds. Now that I've unpacked the new equipment, I don't have room for the empty boxes in my flat. However, they're also a bit awkward to get rid of: I can recycle the cardboard, but the styrofoam inserts will probably need 2 bin liners. I tried taking these boxes back to the shop in the hope that they could be reused, i.e. Richer Sounds could send the box back to Sony and use it for an identical model TV. Failing that, maybe they could dispose of it for me. Their website talks about their "green credentials": they'll recycle old electrical equipment (following the WEEE regulations) and they will also recycle old batteries. However, the guys in the shop said that they couldn't reuse packaging. They could direct me to the recycling depot but if they took the boxes then the whole lot would go to landfill. So, I brought the boxes back home. I'll offer them on Freegle, in case they're useful to anyone moving house, but that probably won't come to anything. I realise that the shopfloor staff don't define policy, and the TV manufacters would also need to accept returned packaging, but it all seems like a missed opportunity.

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