A recent Henley Centre survey suggested that 86% of people were eager to buy goods with less packaging, up 20% in the last two years. Nothing arouses as much spontaneous anger among British householders as the ‘over-packaging’ of foods. Recent newspaper headlines conveyed righteous indignation about the policies of UK retailers, in particular the failure to make all packaging recyclable.
The newspapers completely missed the point. Three issues need to be emphasised:
- Food packaging is a vanishingly small fraction of UK waste. Waste food is far more important.
- Good packaging is vital: it helps protect food from damage and helps lengthen its shelf life.
- Recyclable food packaging may actually be bad for climate change.
Making these points too loudly can get you lynched in some middle-class areas of Britain. Nevertheless, it needs to be said repeatedly that packaging, particularly of food, is not the environmental disaster it is made out to be.