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Poisonous Plastic Press + Cornwallis Collapses


What do Prince Charles, Asda & plastic straws have in common? 


They have all been featured in the press over the last three weeks vilifying the use of plastic and calling for bans and/or limits on the use of plastic.

To be fair in the case of Asda it wasn’t the company indulging in the vilification but the former ASDA CEO Andy Clarke and in the case of straws it was the BBC who ran a whole 1 hour peak time phone in asking callers to please never again to accept a plastic straw!

As the discussion degenerated to a general condemnation of all plastic in general and plastic packaging in particular. I just couldn’t resist phoning in from Portugal where (according to my wife) I should be relaxing and ignoring the ignorance of the contributors. In the event I was given a few minutes air time to defend the use of the material and in particular highlight the massive incineration of waste to energy including plastic waste in other countries. The response from the presenter before she cut me off “who wants to live near a giant waste incinerator?” A not untypical response from the BBC’s neo liberal elite.

But seriously the adverse publicity being given to plastic in both The Times and The Telegraph in the last 2- 3 weeks, along with the BBC is a major threat to our industry and I make no apologies for raising this issue again. Somehow we must as an industry and once again I include the retailers in this, find a way to counter the misconceptions that prevail as these are often based on specious arguments based on little more than urban myths.

For example, the Prince of Wales at a recent summit in Malta claimed that “if you eat fish, you eat plastic, plastic is on the menu”. The same Telegraph article claims 10 million tonnes of plastic is deposited annually in the world’s seas, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

Andy Clarke ex ASDA CEO has a different claim. His article quotes 5-13 million tonnes of plastic per year deposited in the world’s oceans. He then claims similarly that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the Ocean than fish.

These figures beg the question, where do the 5-10-13 million tonnes of waste plastic come from? Who knows the weight of all the fish in the Oceans? And last but not least who knows what 2050 will bring?

Finally this Saragossa Sea of plastic, floating in the pacific was recently resurrected in The Times its scale was claimed to be 400,000 square miles 4 times the size of the UK, weighing 150,000 tonne. If we suppose that’s true then just 5 million tonne of the plain plastic waste entering the oceans each year would cover 13 million square miles. Let’s assume some sink! But really is this credible? How many on their last cruise saw a “sea of plastic” but unless the industry starts to counter these threats then the Andy Clarke’s of this world with their ill thought out proposals to replace plastics will win.

Incineration plant- from waste, to energy

Cornwallis- Demise

It was with genuine regret that I heard of the Cornwallis collapse into administration. This is a company who when I joined the industry were one of our biggest and best competitors.

Joe O’Reilly, the owner, was a first class salesman who ran a tight ship which delivered plain film in bulk on time, every time. Joe diversified in to print with a new factory as the business grew. However somewhere along the line the company lost its way and the time of the pre-pack they were £1.8 million in debt. We wish the new owners well. But will miss Joe O’Reilly, he gave us a good run for our money.

The Cornwallis failure, following the Pulse closure highlights just how difficult it is to make profits in our industry and in the present trading climate. The Pulse contracts were on squeezed margins and some have been taken on without price increases, we wish the new suppliers the best of luck and reiterate the National Flexible service offering a delivery guarantee on time, in full on every order or we give a rebate on the order. We also guarantee 100% compliance to the quality specification.

If you have any thought or questions on any of the items raised as ever they will be welcome, why not join me on LinkedIn.


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