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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 14:30 GMT
In support of packaging...
Jane Bickerstaffe
Director of Incpen

The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, (Incpen), which represents companies involved in all parts of the packaging and products supply chain, has campaigned against excessive packaging for years.

There is still room for improvement but things are moving the right way and it is not packaging that is filling up landfill sites.

Some enlightening packaging statistics...
The UK uses less packaging per person than most other large EU countries - 171 kg in 2004 compared to 188 kg for Germany, 198 kg for the Netherlands, and 200 kg for France
The amount of used packaging sent to landfill has been going down for at least the last 10 years. As well as minimising waste by designing to use less material in each pack, almost 60% of all used packaging was recycled in 2005 - more than double the rate in 1998, including over 1 million tonnes of household used packaging. In 2005 the packaging industry contributed 105m to support recycling
The average household generates 3kg-4kg of used packaging a week and often the same amount of wasted food
Fresh fruit and veg is often packaged these days, but there are many reasons for this, e.g. grapes are bagged to stop accidents, apples sold "loose" generate 27% more waste than those sold in a 4-pack, bananas are bagged to differentiate the regular ones from Fairtrade and organic. Packaging used for fresh fruit and veg is 125,000 tonnes, equivalent to 2.6% of household packaging and just 0.4% of household waste
Under-packaging is 10 times worse for the environment than the same amount of over-packaging. Ten times more energy and material resources go into production of goods and food than into their packaging
Excessive packaging is the exception - most products are packed in the minimum amount of material to meet the needs of transport, hygiene, storage display and use. Help Incpen route out those that are excessively packaged - don't buy them and support our call for a packaging consumer watchdog

Government statistics show that packaging is 18% of household waste and only 3% by weight and volume of waste sent to landfill.

It seems to be part of being British to do ourselves down but we should not when it comes to packaging.

Putting into perspective...

If a household turned its room heating thermostat down by two degrees or drove one mile less a day, it would save as much energy as is used to make the packaging for its whole year's supply of goods!

But the industry is not complacent. It continuously seeks to improve packaging. Incpen members are committed to working towards ensuring that packaging makes an even more positive contribution to sustainable production, distribution and consumption in a future low fossil-carbon economy.

Join Jon Sopel and guests for the Politics Show Sundays at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.

What do you think? Has the packaging industry got it right? Should they do something about rationalising packaging? Is there a better way of doing it?

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