For those of you reading this who didn’t even know there was a Courtauld 1 here’s some background:
The Courtauld Commitment is
a voluntary agreement between WRAP and major UK grocery organisations that supports less packaging and food waste ending up in household bins. It is a powerful vehicle for change and in 2008 has led to zero growth in packaging despite increases in sales and population.
The commitment, which has been signed by 35 retailers, suppliers and manufacturers, represents 92% of UK grocery supermarkets. Three of the main objectives are:
- To design out packaging waste growth by 2008 (achieved: zero growth);
- To deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by 2010; and
- To help reduce the amount of food the nation’s householders throw away by 155,000 tonnes by 2010, against a 2008 baseline.
So there you go. Powerful stuff by some powerful people. So when you look at packaging in the supermarket and think “there’s too much”, at least you can be fairly confident that the people making that packaging are aware of the issue and are trying to reduce it.
Waste Aware Scotland has produced a consumer friendly website to highlight some of these achievements and inform the public of what’s being done. It’s called Positive Package and I think (objectively speaking) it’s one of the best sources of this kind of information.
Anyway, moving on from congratulating my colleagues for their good work, the purpose of this blog post is to show how quickly things move on. WRAP are already planning a sequel to the Courtauld Commitment which goes further and asks more of those companies brave enough to take on the challenge.
A useful piece in packagingnews.co.uk shows the comments of an industry insider to both the issues of the existing Courtauld Commitment and plans for the second. You’ll need to read it as it’s quite long and detailed and I can’t summarise it effectively.
Further coverage, suggesting that the industry supports the provisional plans for the commitment, can be found here.
Should we be worried that industry supports, albeit with a “qualified welcome”, the proposals? After all, industries historically tend to support measures that allow them to continue making profits and don’t support measures that require them to spend money. So why do they support the measures here?
Perhaps it’s because using recycled material (post consumer waste, not just scraps from the factory floor) saves money in the long term? Perhaps it has finally hit home that wider costs (i.e. to the planet) are costs we will all have to bear at some point? Perhaps it’s the inevitability of Government legislation to combat climate change by combating waste in all its guises? Perhaps it’s a combination of factors. In any case I suppose we can cautiously welcome the qualified welcome…
We seem to be heading for a situation where consumers will end up with minimal amounts of unavoidable waste, that it will be widely recycled and that waste throughout the supply chain will be reduced, reused and recycled. Oh, and that use of raw materials will be minimised.
We’re getting there but it’s a long journey.