Wednesday 1 April 2009

Success at Last (but not in Yorkshire)

Tesco is to encourage customers to discard unwanted and excessive packaging near the tills, in an experiment along the lines of a similar "take-back" scheme in Germany. The supermarket chain has already cut back on what it regards as "wasteful" packaging, such as bulky dog food bags and unnecessary plastic wrapping on food. A regional trial will now try to find out which kinds of packaging consumers are prepared to do without.
Common customer gripes include the amount of plastic, cardboard and foil used with Easter eggs, the superfluous boxes accompanying toothpaste, and the trays and plastic film that "protect" fruit.
The trial runs initially for six weeks from today, at Tesco stores in Guildford, Surrey, and Ilminster, Somerset. The company stressed that the arrangements were temporary to get consumer feedback. The scheme allows customers to leave excess packaging for recycling.
Alasdair James, Tesco's head of energy, waste and recycling, recently visited Germany. He said: "We know our customers expect us to help them recycle easily and we have also committed ourselves to cutting our own waste. This unique pilot helps us do both. Packaging left by customers at the store will tell us a lot about areas we may need to look at again, as well as where we have got it right."
A large proportion of retail packaging ends up in landfill space where it takes a long time to decompose, and even then the waste can give off harmful gases and toxins which pollute the air and water.