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Environment minister praises B&Q’s packaging scheme

Environment minister Caroline Spelman has held up B&Q’s packaging initiative as an example of how a business can improve its profits and the way it uses materials.

Speaking at Wrap’s annual conference yesterday (15 November), Spelman said that British businesses could save around £23bn a year by improving the way they use energy, materials and water, which will help improve a “company's bottom line”.

She added: “Earlier this year, I went to B&Q’s distribution centre near Derby and I saw what could be achieved by switching to re-usable packaging to deliver kitchen components like worktops and putting them in re-usable woven material, in a reusable package, to transport the worktops.

“B&Q has cut its cost by £80,000 a year. They have also cut their packaging waste by over 400 metric tonnes. A quick win and excellent efficiency saving.”

Elsewhere, Wrap chief executive Liz Goodwin told PN that re-usable packaging had an important role to play in helping to protect products.

When asked by PN about whether Wrap was shifting its focus from packaging to food waste and product lifecycles, Goodwin replied: “We have to look more broadly at resource efficiency and if you look more broadly at resource efficiency you will naturally assess the environmental impact of products through their lifecycle rather than a particular one aspect of the supply chain.

“For some products packaging forms an important part but for other products they do not and therefore the focus will be on the product itself.”

Wrap published its report on the organisation’s work over the past three years, on the day of the conference, and set out its future agenda.

The report was entitled ‘Resource efficiency’ and showed how Wrap met all its published targets, including helping keep 11m tonnes of waste out of landfill.

Spelman praised Wrap and the waste sector. She said that the sector had played a key role in helping promote the low-carbon sector economy.

She said she recently visited the Olympic park in east London and was impressed to see the processes dealing with the nation’s waste, including glass, plastics and cardboard.

However, she said that the industry still faced challenges, not of its own making.

She explained: “My visit to east London highlighted the labour intensive task of removing the wrappers from around plastic bottles by hand and clearly a case of a business not thinking through about the whole lifecycle of its products.”

She also praised Wrap in helping to tackle food waste and said it showed that householders were taking steps to “waste less” and save money in “hard times”.

Spelman added: “I very much hope that our recent guidance on date labelling and our wider work with industry will continue to help consumers waste less food. We can’t afford to let up just yet.

“There are areas where there is room for improvement.

“At the end of November, Lord Taylor [Defra minister] will be hosting a forum on re-use and would look at identifying ways at developing an infrastructure that will create a robust re-use culture across the economy.”

Source : Liz Gyekye - Packaging

16 November 2011
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