Cutting out the Rubbish

Posted: 30th May 2008, 9:32am

Robust and carefully considered advice, based on informed and considered research is essential for any business owner today.

Free plastic bags, given at the checkout are flavour of the month again. The PR machines of the big supermarkets have been working overtime and successfully got their messages through the major news channels (the most effective form of advertising and brand promotion). Having told us that they are changing their habits we should now feel good about how we shop with them. This terrible problem is being aptly dealt with. Shouldn’t we first though consider the facts?

Fact 1 – Plastic Bags only make up only 0.3% of domestic waste (by weight) and less than 5% of all plastic packaging waste, according to HM Treasury's Plastic Bags Tax Assessment in December 2002

Fact 2 - UK retailers have signed up to an agreement to reduce plastic bags by 25% - “If achieved, the 25% reduction target could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 58,500 tonnes a year – equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road for a year.”

Hooray.

However - 18,000 cars account for only 0.07% of all cars in the UK. We could make the same savings if every car in the country drove 33 yards less per day.

Fact 3 - Ten times more energy goes into the production of food than into the production of its packaging – driving one mile less a day would save as much energy as is used to produce a year’s supply of packaging for one household – source Dr Jan Kooijman

I’m not saying here plastic bags are acceptable – clearly they are a problem – just illustrating a point that it is easy to be bamboozled by misinformation and lose sight of the real issues.

Two extremely informative sites about current global issues that present REAL facts are:-

www.gapminder.org

www.ted.com

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