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Supermarket packaging tops agenda at easyFairs Packaging Innovations 2010

The news that Sainsbury’s is to be taken to court for using too much packaging (the first time that a major retailer has been prosecuted under obscure environmental laws) has added extra heat to the live packaging debate taking place at the easyFairs PACKAGING INNOVATIONS LONDON .

Comments already being released by the panellists ahead of next week’s BIG Packaging Debate, suggest emotions will run high.

For instance, panellist Peter Marsh, CEO of Planet Organic UK, the UK’s largest fully certified organic supermarket, argues that smaller businesses with an eco agenda are being neglected as the packaging industry is only interested in gearing up to the needs of the big supermarkets: "It seems to us that the packaging industry is only interested in volume; why else can no one seem to be able to offer me anything? And yet there’s such a collective focus on the need to be sustainable.

"Our view of the packaging industry is that it’s unresponsive, unimaginative, not in tune with our business and typically not proactive."

Peter will be joined by 3 other expert panellists, Brand Council (UK) and Superbrands founder Marcel Knobil, Robert Opie, Founder and Director of the Museum of Brands, and finally Environmentalist and author of ‘The New Green Consumer Guide’ Julia Hailes MBE.

Julia comments: "Packaging is such an obvious target, because it’s so symbolic of our wasteful society. It’s very difficult as a consumer to understand about the whole supply chain issue. Ultimately, companies should be trying to get consumer’s trust that they’re delivering the optimum solution."

Marcel Knobil, argues that packaging’s role in building successful UK brands mustn’t be ignored in the green debate: "In addition to the multiplicity of functions that it performs on behalf the products it serves: protection; maintaining freshness; aiding convenience; providing information – and the list goes on – without the attention that eye-catching packaging attracts, we’d end up with less brand and more bland. Take it out the equation, and we could be attending a succession of funerals for some well-known household names."

easyFairs Managing Director Matt Benyon, who’s organising the easyFairs PACKAGING INNOVATIONS LONDON show where The BIG Packaging debate is being hosted said: "Far from encouraging over-packaging, the major supermarkets have been very successful in reducing the volumes of packaging – certainly Sainsbury’s, which has also led the way in using compostable alternatives for some of its own-label lines.

"What so often gets missed in this whole perception of ‘packaging as waste’, is that it only becomes so after its fulfilled a whole raft of essential functions, not least by ensuring that produce stays fresher longer. Take away the packaging and the amount of food that gets dumped uneaten into the bin every day would rise astronomically. Too much produce unnecessarily goes that way as it is; without the intervention of what is very smart – and I’d say, environmentally-friendly -packaging technology increasingly drawing upon less and less material, that wouldn’t just be waste, it’d be criminal waste."

easyFairs PACKAGING INNOVATIONS LONDON takes place on the 7th and 8th October at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London. The BIG Packaging Debate will take place at the end of the first day (7th October 2010), starting at 5.15pm. To post questions in advance simply visit www.easyFairs.com/pi-lon .

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