Monday 22 January 2018

Plastic Bags Become A Little More Evil

Recycling, reducing waste, and banning plastic are all movements that have been around for a while and get strong public support but the involvement of some big retail players has just upped the stakes.

In the last week both McDonalds and Coca Cola have made some significant statements about their intent to become waste neutral. QVM has played its own part in the past with a number of recycling and waste minimising strategies including the promotion of biodegradable plastic bags. However a casual observation of our customers leaves the impression that we are still a major polluter. Cheap plastic bags that show up in streets, land fill, and oceans are a common sight in QVM aisles.

Mc Donalds have said that within 10 years 100 percent of guest packaging (wrappers, cups, and other packaging) will come from renewable, recycled, or certified sources. In addition they will recycle all packaging by 2025, and ban all foam products by the end of 2018. "Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address. Our ambition is to make changes our customers want and to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use."

Coca Cola aims to collect and recycle 100% of its packaging by 2030. They call it their World Without Waste vision. “Companies like ours must be leaders. Consumers around the world care about our planet, and they want and expect companies to take action. That’s exactly what we’re going to do, and we invite others to join us on this critical journey.” said a Coca Cola spokesperson.

And it is not just retailers and beverage suppliers who are on the social responsibility bandwagon. An article in the business section of the Age last week questioned the old concept of “share holder value”, or more specifically “shareholder value at any cost”. The CEO of the world’s biggest funds manager said last week - "Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose.” "To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society." This is a significant change in the mindset of corporations and clearly a response to changing society standards.

Plastic bags are nice and cheap but they also pollute and the profit motive no longer stands alone. There are alternatives to polluting plastic bags and every trader needs to consider their use. The next time you hand a plastic bag to your customer and they frown you will know why. And you may have just given them another reason to shop elsewhere.