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Thursday, 18 March 2010

ASDA respond to my question - Just how green is ASDA?

Last week I blogged about ASDA and their recycling claims - just how green is ASDA?

I offered ASDA the right of reply and Julian Walker-Palin, took up the challenge and here is what he said...

Hi Andy, I read your blog with interest as I Head up Corporate Policy on Sustainability for Asda. I would like to address your points and thank you for making the comments in the first place.

Firstly it’s worth us remembering that packaging has a fundamental purpose. Not only does it protect products from being damaged but for food items it also helps to keep these fresh. Without packaging we would have food rotting in the fields or in supply networks, as can be seen every day in countries like India.

We all know that decomposing food emits far more greenhouse gas than the production of packaging. So accepting that packaging is necessary in modern supply chains I also think it is fair to say that before 2006 we’d allowed our packing amount to grow. It had always remained within legal limits but there was also an opportunity to go after in terms of reduction. In fact as a low cost retailer every £1 spent on packaging should rightly have been spent making the product more affordable for our customers.

In 2006 the Courtauld Commitment was extremely helpful in pulling industry together to look at the role of and the levels of packaging. While the rest of industry made a 10% reduction, we committed to reducing ours by a quarter. A reduction we achieved by the end of 2009 and in fact, now we’re at a 28% reduction. This is industry leading by a clear mile.

We’ve also led industry through the development of our Packaging Scorecard which will be live in a trial phase next month. This Packaging Scorecard is intended as a tool to help evaluate the level and type of packaging around a product to make sensible decisions on how it can be optimised. We have also set ourselves the objective in this system of using carbon as a proxy for environment impact to get around the one dimensional approach that you get with pure weight reduction. This is industry leading also.

Furthermore we were a founder member of the Packaging Recycling Action Group (PRAG), which I personally chaired for over a year. The PRAG is still in existence and is now chaired by INCPEN and members include major retailers, brands, councils, waste management companies, packaging industry and central and devolved governments, amongst others. It is the largest group ever to come together to look at packaging and how it can be optimised in its usage and be recycled / re-used more efficiently at end of life. The PRAG has acted as an advisor to government and undoubtedly has helped to move the debate forwards.

The logo to which you refer was actually created by Asda and other retailers and in fact 95% of our packaging is technically recyclable. Whether one of our customers can actually recycle it with their local council depends on the collection arrangements in their local area but this doesn't stop it being a recyclable material. The PRAG again focussed on creating a discussion about how we can get standardisation of materials collected a kerb side for recycling.

I hope that this further detail shows you that not only do we use less packaging than any other retailer but we have also helped to move the debate forwards and find solutions to packaging optimisation and recycling nationally, as well as being instrumental in creating the clearest logo yet to help packaging recycling. I would be very pleased to get any further comments you may have."

1 comment:

Ben Dakin said...

Ahhh, the joys of corporate responses! I wonder how they would respond to question why do you sell strawberries shipped in from the USA in the height of the British strawberry season? Not the best use of energy!

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