Waste Reduction (Packaging)

Question Time — Scottish executive — Environment and Rural Development – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 9th December 2004.

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Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour 2:00 pm, 9th December 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to reduce packaging waste. (S2O-4502)

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

Under the packaging regulations, businesses with a turnover of £2 million that make or use more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year must recycle or recover a proportion of the packaging. In addition, we have just launched the innovation fund, which is run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme and is designed to help retailers to minimise waste from packaging and products.

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour

Will the minister consider the serious challenges that face the elderly and infirm when they have to deal with the unnecessary packaging that we see in many retail outlets, especially at Christmas time?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I have great sympathy with the point that Paul Martin raises. Many of us are frustrated by what appears to be unnecessary packaging not only at Christmas time, but throughout the year. We discover that the retailers justify it on the ground that that is what the consumer wants. That seems to be a rather serious disjunction.

I refer back to the first answer that I gave. The recovery targets are severe. Between 2004 and 2008, substantial requirements will be placed on all retailers as described in respect of glass, aluminium, steel, paper, fibreboard, plastic, wood and all similar materials. We have a handle on how to reduce the waste. I have regular meetings with retailers and I continually make to them the point that they must reduce the amount of packaging. They now leave themselves open to the terms of those regulations, which will impose burdens on them.