Attack is the best form of defence

We are pleased to present here our guest blogger – Trewin Restorick of Hubbub UK

TrewinAs the leader of an environment charity I am usually viewed with deep suspicion by the packaging industry. I can see them mental preparing their defence in readiness for an attack on how packaging is creating the UK’s waste mountain and is littering our high streets. But I am too long in the tooth for that game and have seen too much evidence on how packaging can help cut food waste and is only littered due to the actions of irresponsible citizens.

What surprises me is how poor the industry is at getting these messages into the mainstream. Commercial rivalries seem to undermine an ability to create a coherent story and consequently the industry is constantly reacting rather than generating media events.

I would suggest that now is the time to change the dynamic. The issue of food waste is rising up the nation’s agenda. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste TV programmes have forced supermarkets to up their game. Already we have seen Sainsbury’s announce a £10 million investment in a consumer campaign called Waste Less Save More which my charity is supporting. Tesco is seeking to stay ahead of its rivals and there have been a plethora of other announcements from Asda and Morrisons.

But where is the packaging industry in this debate? Social media is awash with the need to embrace wonky veg but there is nothing on the benefits of packaging or any consumer advice on how to use packaging to extend the life of food.

Similarly with litter, the charity I run Hubbub UK has started to bring together a coalition of companies helping them to share the burden of addressing an issue which generates huge passion and anger amongst people. Our NeatStreets campaign has focussed on the importance of changing behaviour rather then attacking the companies whose packaging ends up on the street. The packaging industry has been more engaged in this campaign but once again there is far more the whole industry could do to focus the debate on behaviour change.

These two national trends give the packaging industry a fantastic opportunity to get their story into the public debate in a way that is positive and factually based. Grasping this opportunity will require greater collaboration, a willingness to dedicate some time and resource plus an ability to point to independent evidence to support the claims being made.

Missing this opportunity will result in the industry remaining on the defensive and susceptible to emotive attacks from concerned citizens. I would suggest that being proactive would be a far better approach.

Many thanks

Trewin Restorick