skip to main content
Prev Next

Friend Required For Plastic Packaging… & Film Prices Availability

Friend required for plastic packaging… & film prices availability

Plastic packaging needs a friend! Not just any friend, but one in whom the public has some trust and who they respect as ethical in their approach to doing business. Marks and Spencer would be excellent and Waitrose would be superb. Even a combination of Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s might be enough. But sooner or later someone among the major supermarkets has to stand up and spell out the facts of food retailing life. They need to explain to the public and the press that the supermarkets could not exist in their present form, without “plastic packaging”.

For example ovenable ready meals, boil in the bag rice, all the types of raw meat and fish, along with cheese and fruits supplied from around the world, could not be sold by the supermarkets without the ubiquitous plastic pack giving the contents protection and preservation. Even everyday commodity foods such as bakery, snacks and sandwiches rely on their “plastic packaging” to enable them to be kept germ free whilst they are transported, stored and distributed. It is the packaging that enables them to be sold within a timescale that means they are still “fresh” by the time they reach the supermarkets customers.

Without their packaging virtually all of these foods would perish long before they were purchased. Yet what do we hear from the supermarkets when pressure groups grab headlines UK wide for “Plastic free Aisles”? Regrettably, nothing or when supermarkets are accused of “over packaging” with plastic, how do they respond? Not at all. Even when they are taken to task for all the plastic packaging they supply which their critics say cannot be recycled, what defence do they offer? Effectively none.

Space available in these notes, make it difficult to elaborate in detail on each of these issues, but surely it’s about time the supermarket PR teams started to counter the demonization of plastic packaging.

It really is amazing when pressure groups blame the “Sargasso Sea” of plastic, floating in the Pacific Ocean, on the material. For comparison purposes consider. When we see two cars in a crash, do we blame the cars? Alternatively when a dog is allowed to dump its waste on the pavement, do we blame the dog, or the animal on the other end of the leash? Yet for some reason the public has been conditioned to think about plastic differently. Anyone with any common sense knows the only problem with plastic waste is the morons who throw it away, it doesn’t really matter if this be in some countryside lay by, or a ship at sea throwing out waste. Remarkably, it’s still the plastic to blame. Plastic packaging is inert low cost, infinitely variable in application and has very low adverse environmental impact when manufactured. It is easily disposed of by incineration, as it has a higher calorific content than coal and plastic acts as a heat generating catalyst when incinerated with other materials. In essence it is energy that has effectively been utilised for other purposes, which when incinerated is being re-used to create light, heat and power.

For those who worry about the environmental effects of waste incineration in the UK, we have just 32 plants nationwide delivering energy from waste. Compare this with France who have 126. Even Germany (the world leader in recycling waste) has 99 plants and counting. Meanwhile Italy has 47 plants whilst even Switzerland and Sweden, smaller countries than the UK, have more incineration plants and derive more energy from waste than the UK, why is this? What do these countries know that we don’t?

The environmentalists claim we should recycle plastic not incinerate. However, not only is recycling plastic very difficult, due to its composition in lamination, but it is also really pointless. If we consider the energy savings from recycling a tonne of aluminium, it is claimed there is enough energy saved to supply a normal household for a whole year. Similarly recycling a tonne of paper, its claimed, saves enough energy to supply one house for one week. Recycling a tonne of plastic saves absolutely nothing! It has no environmental benefit! Indeed the energy and emissions created from collection, sorting and processing plastic waste cost more financially and environmentally than they save.

The supermarkets and major food retailers know all about the benefits of plastic packaging, they also understand it is a valuable commodity. They are well aware how beneficial the technical properties are and how vital the material is to the operation of their business, yet they won’t defend its use. Heavy glass, tin and board, are quite rightly being replaced for packaging by lightweight plastic packs. Why don’t the food retailers tell the public why these changes are both economical and environmentally beneficial? The retailers have an excellent track record and a great environmental case for their success in pursuing packaging reduction but why don’t they emphasise the role plastic plays in making this success possible.

The WRAP mantra for packaging waste is “reduce, reuse, recycle”. It is the “reduce” where the most savings are made and this is simply where plastic ticks the biggest box! We should not be afraid to promote plastic or should we just let the lobbyists win? The flexible packaging industry tries hard to promote a positive image but we don’t have the public profile to be heard. The supermarkets undoubtedly have the knowledge, the resources and the profile to be heard. Why won’t they use it?

Film Prices and Availability

At the moment there is little to add to the comments made in the last notes. The supply side of the film industry seems becalmed, almost soporific in the heat of summer Polymer prices did soften a little in July but no major changes occurred. How long this situation will last is anybody’s guess, but mine is that when the polymer mandarins return from their summer break, reducing polymer prices for the third and final quarter of the year will not figure high on their priorities. So whilst we can all continue to run our stocks down the market needs closely watching.

As ever we shall see. If you have any thoughts on any of the items raised they will be welcome.

Meanwhile the invitation to join me on LinkedIn is open to all.


Please leave a comment using the form below

Post a comment