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23 October, 2006

Reuse, not recycle, II

Supermarkets in the UK, and presumably elsewhere, provide dividers at checkouts, to distinguish one customer's groceries on the conveyer belt from the next customer's.

The divider design at Sainsbury's is a clear plastic tube with a triangular cross-section, into which is inserted printed paper displaying the company name, a specific message (e.g. '10 items or less') or whatever promotional message the management wishes to push.
Booth's, a regional supermarket chain probably little-known outside Lancashire & Cumbria, dispenses with the plastic tube. The dividers are simply cardboard triangular tubes.

Some would say the latter is 'better', as paper is more readily recycled and biodegraded than plastic, but the flimsy card dividers wear-out rapidly and need to be replaced drastically more frequently than those protected within Sainsburys' plastic tubes. It's false economy to use lots of printed paper rather than a little plastic; the plastic tubes themselves could be in service for years whilst each paper insert could last for weeks, even months.
From a less environmentalist point of view (which is equally valid), the lightweight card dividers fall over even before the conveyer belt moves and they just look cheap, especially when a little tatty – they're a poor advertisement for the company brand image and and its shopping environment.

Quite apart from that, the Booth's staff are scandalously rude: "Sorry about your weight." Well, really.

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