A numbers game

Dick SearleBy now you will, no doubt, have seen coverage of the Government’s recent consultation about the UK’s recycling targets.

My current concern is not so much with the outcomes but with the way the whole process was managed. It was described as consultation but the net experience was anything but.

To wind back just a little: The Packaging Federation was one of a number of trade bodies invited to take part in the Defra exercise: We speak for an industry that employs over 85,000 individuals in the UK – some 15,000 more than those in UK pharmaceutical manufacturing. We accordingly made our points to Defra earlier this year and more than once. Our thinking also won the unconditional support of the APPG (the all party MPs group for the industry).

Despite all of that coordination and effort our viewpoint appears to have only carried the same weight in the Defra consultation as the contribution of any one individual, informed on the issues or otherwise.

This method unsurprisingly produces a questionable and unbalanced ‘consultation’. It feels like a triumph of bureaucracy over democracy and it also calls into question the point of any future exercises.

In particular, representative trade and industry organisations such as ourselves will rightly view future participation as a waste of member resources.

I can only plead that if the Government is seriously interested in true consultation – on any topic – then it needs to get a properly devised system into place.

What exists merely does the participants a disservice.

We all need and deserve much better than this.

Many thanks again

Dick Searle