What packaging does and how it is changing
As we start to recycle more things more often, awareness has increased about the amount of packaging used on a daily basis. This raises the question - What is happening to reduce packaging?
Some packaging reductions are visually clear to see - the removal of the outer box for a tube of tomato puree for example - but would you notice that a glass jar is lighter in weight? All these subtle changes make an enormous difference, as does the purchase of concentrated products and refills.
What triggered this change?
Consumer demand, as well as the many UK laws on packaging, has encouraged manufacturers and retailers to look at new ways of using and reducing packaging.
In addition, an agreement called the Courtauld Commitment was set up to develop innovative packaging solutions so that less rubbish ends up in the household bin.
Why is so much packaging used?
Products have a long journey to make before you take them home - going from the manufacturer to the retailer. Packaging is used to protect the product. It's important that it gets from the manufacturer to the retailer and finally to the consumer in a condition the consumer expects. But it is equally as important that the right amount of packaging is used – not too much nor too little.
It also extends shelf-life, minimises breakage, safeguards public health and provides product information to consumers. Tests by the Cucumber Growers Association show that unwrapped cucumbers are un-saleable after 3 days while using just under 2 grams of packaging keeps them fresh for 14 days.
What changes have been made so far?
- Recycled content in glass, metal, paper and board packaging;
- Recycled content in plastic packaging is growing as availability of good quality recycled plastic increases.
Watch our slide-show of products that use recycled materials, less packaging or have been specifically designed to be recycled or to encourage re-use..
Is it just food packaging that is being reduced?
No – the Home Improvement (DIY) sector is also looking at ways to support less packaging.
Currently B&Q is using a returnable and reusable cover for carrying kitchen worktops, known as the Carrierpac. It saves on material as it can be used for up to 18 trips and reduces product damage. There is also no packaging for the consumer to dispose of.