Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Procter and government announce new targets

Two significant announcements today - one from a brand owner and the other from government. Taken separately they are both important stories, but taken together they mark a huge change in the relationship between individuals, brands and government. Procter and Gamble released news of the company's plans to reduce the environmental impact of their products, while the UK Government announced "pay as you throw" plans. Procter's move to 'green' 10% of its products will help consumers to reduce their impact and reduce the amount they recycle, so they'll have lower recycling bills. If local councils do adopt this type of pay as you throw scheme, then consumers are very likely to choose the products that help them to keep their waste bills down. A good move by Procter and one that will protect their business in years to come.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

GAP accused of child labour

GAP, the clothing retailer and member of Red initiative, was today accused of using child labour in the production of its clothing in India. Despite being rated as one of the most ethical retailers in the Time Out shopping league, ERI respondents have consistently rated GAP as one of the least ethical retailers on the index. Nearly 90% of people who rated GAP poorly did so because they believe "the company exploits its workers e.g. low pay, long hours or poor working environment" and the latest news will dent GAP's reputation even further.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is organic any good?

News yesterday from BBC says that some goods may be stripped of their organic status if they've been flown into UK. If implemented this will help clear up some of the confusion that exists in consumers' minds. Back in 2006, to coincide with Fairtrade fortnight, ERI conducted research which shows half of UK shoppers weren't clear about the differences between fairtrade, organic and ethical goods. About 5 in 10 people say they are confused as to what the terms mean.

That said, many shoppers think organic means 'healthier and better for people and the environment'. Not so, according to AAGill in The Times, but the Soil Association might disagree.

But consumers are still choosing organic, and in increasing numbers, although they see the irony when organic food is flown thousands of miles to their supermarket.

Our research clearly shows that the people who buy organic also want less packaging and locally sourced products. If advertising promises this, but the store fails to deliver, shoppers pick up on it straight away. One ERI respondent says, "It is bad when a company does a big ad campaign about local sourcing, then a visit to the shop shows they are not. Am fed up with veg from Chile, Morocco etc, not what they advertise at all."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Netherlands launches tax on packaging

From January 2008, the Netherlands will employ a carbon-based packaging tax that could herald the start of wider EU movement forcing companies to take CO2 emissions into account when making packaging decisions, according to Sustainable is Good and Environmental Leader reports.

CO2 emissions from the production of each kilogram of packaging will form the basis of the calculations.

Changes in packaging production for the Dutch market could give international companies a chance to save money and improve their standing in other European markets, by promoting their products' reduced carbon footprint.

Such measures will appeal to consumers, as the ERI shows 48% of consumers are now looking for less packaging when they shop. This is particularly true if regulators introduce personal carbon allowances, as consumers' carbon footprint may well benefit from a reduction in the CO2 emissions going into product packaging.

Makes me ask though: Will a carbon-based packaging tax encourage companies to make their packaging more easy to recycle, using either existing or new materials?