Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 1st June 2023 Issue no. 1067
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Welcome to the Cleanzine
My mind’s been boggling - mainly because the news had, until yesterday, somehow escaped me, but partly because of the issues it will likely solve. No more cut hands (and sometimes legs)! No more broken scissors, or frustration and sometimes even rage at my inability to access something I've bought, because it's been far too securely packaged. Thermoformed packs are a particular bugbear, since you can’t separate the hard plastic front from the cardboard backing & can’t break into the pack without finding and using a sharp implement. Go in too soft at the wrong angle, and this can slip off and cause injury. Go in too hard and you can damage the product. Cutting the pack is just as tough and you’re left with sharp bits that can’t be recycled. How manufacturers think they'll breed customer loyalty and win repeat business by making their products impossible to get to, is beyond me. Yet they still do it. And while I’m on the subject, why do supermarkets sell shrink-wrapped hard vegetables such as swede? Who shrink wraps them in the first place, and why?
Extended Producer Responsibility, which I’m just discovering, isn’t really about ending struggles with overly protective packaging though but about forcing people into thinking about the way they package their products and making sensible changes. I think it will help serve its stated purpose of encouraging a circular economy, since it effectively shifts the cost of recycling packaging, away from councils and onto those responsible for using it to package their products. ‘Hit them in the pocket’, if you like. I doubt that it will score the potential double whammy of reducing council tax bills too, (since it will also fully fund the recovery costs for the packaging waste collected) since the councils will find something else to spend the money on - but it's a start. That it’s creating yet more red tape for already overstretched businesses isn’t good, but I’m hoping that the benefits will come to outweigh the hassle. I expect that officials administering the scheme will struggle too, while also fighting challenges to the charges made, but, as the saying goes, that’s the price of progress.
There are different criteria for different sizes of companies and amount of packaging created and as the scheme progresses, ‘Eco Modulation’ will mean that harder-to-recycle packaging will attract higher fees. Great! And if the Government’s explanation, (at www.gov.uk/guidance/packaging-waste-prepare-for-extended-producer-responsibility) is too wordy, the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association has produced a handy guide, which you can access via the news further down the page.
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