With various discussions and comments about overpackaged products appearing on the blog lately, I spoke to the people at INCPEN to find out what steps manufacturers are taking to resolve the problems.
INCPEN is a research organisation, which among other tasks encourages industry to minimise the environmental impact of packaged goods and to continually improve packaging.
I invited INCPEN to submit some information about their vision. The following slideshow is a guest presentation that has been sent in by them, outlining the commitment to sustainable production of the organisation's members. Members include international and UK companies that are involved in all aspects of packaged products in the retail chain, from material suppliers, manufacturers, producers, wholesalers right through to retailers. Household names such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Boots, Sainsbury's and M&S are among its list of members.
A more detailed vision statement can be found in document form here. It is also worthwhile visiting the INCPEN site, which provides links to a variety of resources including its Code of Practice for optimising packaging and reducing waste. There are also factsheets on a range of subjects, which include Deposits on Packaging Containers, Litter, Packaging, Plastic Carrier Bags and Waste Management.
If you are interested in researching the history of packaging, there is an excellent timeline which can be found in the education section, which offers a whole host of fascinating facts. For example, did you know that potato crisps were packaged in tins in the 1920s or that aerosols first became popular in the 1940s?
For schools, the education site also introduces a range of educational resources for KeyStages 2, 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum.
INCPEN focuses on a holistic approach to sustainability and not just pushing for compostable or recyclable packaging. The research organisation also argues that some "overpackaging" is better than "underpackaging" when considering the issue of food waste.
If you have got some time to spare, it's worthwhile popping over to INCPEN to find out more. Visit www.incpen.org.
P.S. Of course I know the carton came after the egg, but isn't it great that the polystyrene cartons of the 70s have been replaced with compostable cardboard. Now that's what I call progress, even if I did enjoy the sound of breaking up the polystyrene egg boxes as a child.