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IOP Supports Women’s Institute Call for Better Food Packaging

IOP: The Packaging Society today welcomed the initiative taken by the Women’s Institute to draw attention to the need for more sustainable packaging, whilst recognising the essential role played by packaging in ensuring that food and other products arrive at the consumer in good condition and with the minimum of wastage.

For many years, the Society has been working to ensure packaging solutions that meet the key requirements of any pack, which are to preserve, protect and promote a product, whilst reducing the costs of unnecessary packaging and helping promote sustainability through pack minimisation and the use of materials that can be re-used or re-cycled.

‘Many of our members are developing the use of new bio-degradable polymers or striving to make sure that packs use the least amount of materials whilst still meeting the essential requirements of pack integrity that customers demand,’ said Dr Paul Butler, Vice Chair of the Society’s Board, ‘and since the principal costs of packaging come from the materials used, it would be commercial suicide for packaging manufacturers to build in more packaging than absolutely necessary. But it is important to distinguish between a gift, such as a box of chocolates or an Easter egg, where the packaging forms an essential part of the emotional giving experience, and a commodity item such as a tin of beans. There is a perception that gift items are over packaged’ he acknowledges, ‘but how would your partner feel about receiving six chocolates in a paper bag for Valentine's Day?’.

For several years, the Society’s Starpack packaging competition has given an award, which is sponsored by WRAP, the Waste Resources and Action Programme, to the most innovative packaging design that lead to a significant reduction in household waste. The training courses that it runs also provide delegates with knowledge of materials and techniques to enable them to design and develop packs that minimise the use of resources, and over the past few years there has been a significant increase in students’ awareness of the need to approach packaging in a more sustainable way. Through measures such as these, the Society is striving to improve packaging standards, promote sustainability and enhance company competitiveness by reducing the cost of packaging.

The Society also lends its support to the WI’s campaign for a reduction in food waste which exceeds that of packaging waste for the average household and is, arguably a bigger landfill problem that packaging. ‘There is a critical need’, continued Butler, ‘for the public as well as retailers to reduce the amount of food waste they generate. In many ways this is a far more serious problem than excess packaging, because of the resources needed to produce, process, pack, store, and transport food that ends up in the dustbin. In a starving world, it is unethical and irresponsible to waste food’.

Notes for Editors

  1. IOP: The Packaging Society is a Division of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. It is a professional association with members in all sections of the packaging industry.
  2. For more information contact Gordon Stewart, IOP: The Packaging Society on 01476 514593 or

Date Posted: 21 June 2006

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