Letter to the Editor, The Times in response to ‘Worse packaging crimes than plastic bags’

Letter to the Editor, The Times in response to ‘Worse packaging crimes than plastic bags’

To; The Editor

Carol Midgley (Worse packaging crimes than plastic bags) in demonising most packaging has failed to understand the critical role packaging has in protecting the contents it surrounds. According to WRAP, the Waste Resources Action Programme, packaging protects 20 times its contents in carbon terms than it uses itself. I trust Ms Midgley is equally horrified by food waste and so will pause to consider the role packaging has in both protecting food and in helping it to last longer.

The cucumbers referred to in Ms Midgley’s article last much longer in their ‘condom’ than without. Indeed a major retailer, in response to customer feedback, displayed cucumbers unwrapped. That decision was soon reversed when soggy cucumbers had to be thrown away and consumers complained of cucumbers going soft before they had a chance to eat them. Similarly a supermarket experimented with reduced Easter Egg packaging. Result? Lots of smashed, unsellable Easter eggs returned to the manufacturer.

Packaging doesn’t just help get the food home from the store but also protects its contents on the journey from producer to retailer. Businesses do not like wasting money so they are unlikely to provide packaging unless there is a critical need for it. Government and NGO’s acknowledge the significant reductions in packaging materials used by the application of new packaging technologies but also agree that packaging has a vital role in reducing food waste and further material reduction must not be at the expense of risking damage to contents.

I suspect the tirade against packaging is actually a vendetta against the littering of used packaging – which is an issue caused by antisocial behaviour rather than the manufacturer or packaging by itself.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of a charge on plastic carrier bags, surely food is simply much too important to waste?

Click here to view the Times article Times 23 9 2015