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Less Packaging Saves The Environment & Your Pocket

8 August 2004
Less packaging saves the environment, and your pocket

Green MP Mike Ward says his shopping experiment to mark the signing of the Government's Voluntary Packaging Accord revealed that pre-packaged products cost up to 20 per cent more than their non-packaged equivalents.

Mr Ward today visited the Thorndon New World near Parliament and filled two grocery orders each sufficient for an MP for a week at Parliament, one with a typical selection of one-use packaging, the other systematically reducing packaging by either avoiding it all together or using re-useable bags and containers.

"My shopping trip today highlights the excessive amount of packaging used for our food," said Mr Ward, the Green Party's Waste-free Spokesperson.

"This is just a small, indicative sample of the increasing quantity of packaging waste being generated which the Green Party fear will not be addressed by the upcoming Accord. And it's not just the environment that is paying the price, it would seem that it is also impacting on people's grocery budget.

"What he found was that the pre-packaged products cost up to 20 per cent more than the non-packaged goods, which reflects the embodied energy and material resources used that will be dumped straight into the ground."

Avoiding packaging is nothing new for Mr Ward, who's Private Members Bill would put a levy on all disposable plastic shopping bags.

"I haven't taken a plastic shopping bag to the supermarket for years and regularly refill bottles and packets.

"I am totally supportive of the aims of the packaging accord, but have difficulty with it being voluntary because it will put responsible manufacturers at a disadvantage. Encouraging companies to move towards reusable packaging and create less waste is an admirable intention, and I have no doubt that the Accord we will result in some manufacturers smartening up. But two years is too long to wait to see how successful it will be when a simple levy on beverage containers and plastic bags would guarantee less waste going into the ground," said Mr Ward.


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