Leith councillor Gordon Munro has called on Supermarket chains to do more to cut the amount of packaging they use to sell food and accused them of offloading their costs onto councils.
Writing in the latest Speaker newspaper, he said: “The economic case for recycling is one of the main reasons for current shift to managed weekly collection. Whilst there were teething problems people and workers get used to new ways of presenting and collecting waste it has produced impressive results.
“It is estimated that the council will make a saving of £1m in landfill costs in this financial year. This is due to a reduction of 6% in the amount of waste sent to landfill.
“Total waste recycled has reached its highest ever rate of 37% and it is forecast to rise further to 39% by the year end. This is good but more could be done.
“In my view, supermarkets are offloading costs to councils. The amount of packaging for goods is to bring added value and increased profit to the supermarket. It is us the consumer and your council who have to dispose of the packaging not the supermarket. We are increasingly playing our part in recycling, but it is about time the supermarkets played their part by reducing packaging.”
Of course, as a consumer you can do your bit by avoiding supermarkets if you can, and when you do buy stuff from there try to buy loose vegetables, or low packaging options. You could even take a lead from former Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw and leave the excess packaging at the till when you buy it, but be prepared for disparaging looks.
Probably a more feel-good way to cut the amount packaging coming into your house is to use local independent shops. They tend to use less packaging than the supermarkets, and by shopping in them, you help to keep your money circulating in the local economy which is also a good thing. It may even be cheaper.
You could also consider getting some of your weekly shop delivered from an organic box scheme or from local social enterprise Edinburgh Community Food.
Over the last few weeks communal Food Recycling bins have been appearing throughout Leith too, in a bid to further boost that recycling rate and save more on landfill tax. Should you not quite be sure what you’re doing with this new service, the council have produced this handy Frequently Asked Questions guide – and yes you can use normal plastic carrier bags to line your kitchen caddy!