News review

More sweets at new owner of Morrisons' Local stores and M&S

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Jamie Oliver look away now. The new owner of Morrisons convenience stores has claimed the chain hasn’t turned a profit because it hasn’t been selling enough sweets to kids. In the week that sugar has commanded plenty of column inches, Mike Greene told The Times that not stocking sweets near schools was one of a number of “basic errors” made by the previous management. Meanwhile, M&S’s ban on the so-called “guilt lanes” laden with sugary treats at its checkouts doesn’t extend to branches in hospitals or stations … because they’re run by franchisees. Many other supermarkets have banned sweets from checkouts. WH Smith, it appears, has not.

 

Biodegradable battle

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Different factions of the “biodegradable” packaging industry have been trading blows because of claims some are making pertaining to compostable products. Last week the Bio-Based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) accused those producing “oxo-biodegradable” bags of greenwashing – claims that they are biodegradable are “unsupported by relevant standards” the group said. According to the five-page paper the BBIA has produced as evidence, “the technology of additive-mediated fragmentation entails that a conventional plastic is combined with special additives, which are purported to promote the degradation of the product. Yet, the resulting fragments remain in the environment and do not biodegrade as defined in internationally accepted industry standards.” In other words, an oxo-biodegradable plastic bag turns into lots of tiny pieces that you can’t see but are still there. European Bioplastics, the trade body, has also waded in: it’s also claimed that some companies that manufacture these dubious products are misusing the EU 13432 standard, which relates to products that fully biodegrade in less than 12 weeks.

 

Packaging ‘carbon’ falls

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Retailers and food manufacturers have managed to cut carbon emissions associated with their packaging by 3.9%, according to latest figures from stage 3 of Wrap’s Courtauld Commitment. Changes in the mix of packaging materials and increases in recycling rates helped reduce emissions, and this despite packaging weight actually increasing by 0.7% in the same period (2012 to 2014). The British Retail Consortium also reported this week that waste arising at store level in supermarkets fell from 200,000 tonnes in 2013 to 180,000 tonnes last year. Industry-led voluntary agreements to tackle waste have been criticised recently as pressure mounts on the government to introduce regulation to reduce food waste in particular.

 

Nothing smart about uniform waste

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Discarded corporate uniforms apparently create 16,000 tonnes of waste every year, but just 9% is recovered through textile collectors and banks. A further 1,000 tonnes is shredded, but not recycled. The rest ends up buried in landfill or incinerated. The statistics are in a 2012 report by Wrap and Oakdene Hollins. “Whilst many companies in the UK utilise corporate-wear, few appear to consider end-of-life opportunities for the garments they purchase, and limited resource is allocated to ensuring these items stay out of landfill,” the authors concluded. The findings and progress to date will be scrutinised at a House of Commons event this coming December.

 

And finally…

 

Four philosophers discuss the killing of animals for food in BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme, whilst Dutch food technologists claimed this week that they can use plants to create food with the same texture as steak.

 

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