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Companies challenged to pay for disposal of wasted packaging

By Leah Armstrong , 12-Jun-2009
Last updated on 12-Jun-2009 at 12:25 GMT

The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged UK companies to contribute to the ₤100m annual disposal costs of excess packaging, in an effort to reduce package wastage.

This attack on UK companies is in response to the UK government’s packaging strategy, which was unveiled earlier this week. In a report entitled ‘Making the Most of Packaging’, a series of new initiatives was laid out to overhaul he way the UK deals with packaging from “production line to recycling bin” over the next decade.

Tougher line needs to be taken

The LGA has said that this strategy did not go far enough in holding packaging producers and retail companies responsible for tackling the problem.

Instead, the body has said that forcing the producers and retailers to part with money from their own pockets for the disposal costs, would be an effective cut back incentive.

It has also urged that tougher recycling targets should be imposed on producers and retailers should commit to using more recycled packaging materials, as well as improving the labelling on which packaging can be recycled.

If retailers used more recycled packaging, it would boost the market for councils to sell material collected from residents and bring in extra income to keep council tax down. Currently, councils pay a landfill tax of ₤40 per ton.

Cosmetics industry waking up to calls to reform

Calls for the reduction of excess packaging and the use of recyclable materials in the cosmetics industry have been gaining pitch for some time.

Some brands such as Aveda have already taken action to keep the size, weight and production processes of their packaging to a minimum and 80% of their products use post consumer recycled materials (PCR).

Lush has also been vocal about the need for reform in packaging. In August of last year, it launched a ‘Get Naked’ campaign in which shop workers went naked, save for an apron, in protest against goods with excess packaging. Many of their solid products such as shampoo bars, soaps and deodorant bars are sold without packaging.

If this challenge set by the LGA is adopted, the use of recycled materials and reduction of excess packaging could become an imperative for the UK cosmetics industry, rather than a choice for a select few.

Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board said: “If retailers and manufacturers start paying the true price for their unnecessary packaging, they’ll have a real incentive to get rid of it all together. It would boost the market for recycled materials and mean councils could invest more on improving recycling and offer more consistent services.

If manufacturers create unnecessary rubbish, they should help consumers by paying for it to be recycled”.

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