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8 September, 2006

Packaging the curate's egg

Sainsbury's has announced an intention to switch from plastic to compostable packaging.  Good news, in principle, but I'm going to be ungrateful* and focus on flaws in the scheme.

Firstly, the initial launch only affects niche products: ready meals (which I don't buy) and organic produce (which I certainly don't buy).
The former is a sector using excessive packaging anyway – it's good that the excess will be biodegradable, but it'd be drastically better to reduce the absolute amount of packaging instead.
The latter is somewhat patronising, as if sensible packaging is only an issue for the 'right-on' Tarquins & Cressidas who buy organic. Recycling and related matters are for everyone, and all classes (in multiple senses of the word) of product.

Besides, most vegetables come with integral packaging: their skins. Any artificial packaging is superfluous in such cases, biodegradable or otherwise. I've seen instances when products, perfectly protected by their natural outer coating, have been sold on polystyrene trays under cellophane simply to label vegetables as organic and somehow of 'premium' quality.

*: 'Ungrateful' is the wrong word – I don't owe a supermarket chain gratitude – but I can't think of a better one.


But in their defence, I suppose they're doing this as a sort of trial, and Tarquin and Cressida are going to be much more receptive to the idea than Dazzer and Chardonnay.

Posted by looby at September 11, 2006 09:03 PM
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